This law stuff is so boring – Bangladesh cat
photo by Freelance Dreamer
|Contents — Bangladesh Cat Animal Welfare Protection|
History and comment
The Cruelty to Animals Act 1920
I hadn’t reckoned on the influence of the British Raj. I should have guessed. Britain has a long history of protecting animals. The first parliamentary legislation in the world was Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle 1822 (promoted by Richard Martin).
The British Raj in India was from 1858-1947. In 1920 The Cruelty to Animals Act was enacted and came into force in Bangladesh, then part of India. This Act is set out in its entirety in English on a Bangladesh website.
The statutes of Bangladesh commence in 1836. Until 1986 they are presented in English and thereafter in Bangla. I will make a presumption that this was due to the Bengali Language Movement that started in 1948.
As far as I am aware the Cruelty to Animals Act 1920 (the Act) is still in force. I have taken the liberty to reproduce just two selected sections here that are relevant to companion animals. The full Act can be seen here: the Act (the link is good as at Nov. 2008). I have listed the section heading to give a flavor for the legislation.
What is very good about Bangladesh is that it is relatively easy to find the country’s entire list of statues and text. This is not always the case and that applies to European countries.
I was prompted to look at Bangladesh Animal Welfare because:
- the country is the world’s most densely populated
- from 2000-2005 it was considered the world’s most corrupt country (The Times newspaper)
- Henry Kissinger called it a “basket case”
- the Bengal tiger is gradually becoming extinct in the wild in good part due to the rising human population eroding the tiger’s habitat and forcing the tiger to live in close proximity to people
Could there be decent animal welfare law in that environment? Yes, thanks to the Brits. Don’t get me wrong, the Brits did and do bad things too.
The key question though is, “is the law enforced”. And I suspect the answer is a resounding “no”. The police and courts enforce the Act (section 21). Law without enforcement is next to worthless. One reason why I am being pessimistic about enforcement is the bullet list of factors above and the fact that the law although good for 1920 probably needs updating and modernizing. That has not happened indicating a lack of commitment to the legislation. Also the penalties are light (see below). If I am wrong I will stand corrected, willingly. Please have a say if you wish.
There are 7 statutes which concern veterinarians in Bangladesh:
- The Existing Veterinary Acts
- The Cattle Trespass Act 1871
- The Cruelty to Animal Act 1920
- The Animal Slaughter ( Restriction) and Meat ( Control) Act 1957
- The Bangladesh Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance 1962
- The Veterinary Practitioners Ordinance 1982
- The Diseases of Animal Act 2005
- The Animal and Animal Product Quarantine Act 2005.
(a) overdrives, cruelty or unnecessarily beats, or otherwise ill-treats any animal, or
(b) binds, keeps or carries any animal in such a manner or position as to subject the animal to unnecessary pain or suffering, or
(c) offers, exposes or has in his possession for sale any live animal which is suffering pain by reason of mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or other ill-treatment, or any dead animal which he has reason to believe to have been killed in an unnecessarily cruel manner,
he shall be punished for every such offence with fine which may extend to one hundred Taka, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with both.
Comment: 100 taka (at Nov. 2008) = $1.45 USD (£.88 GBD). The maximum fine then is less than half a weeks wages. In the UK the maximum fine is £20,000, which represents about one years wages as at 2008. The fine is low in Bangladesh. — Bangladesh Cat Animal Welfare Protection
26.(1) Any police-officer may arrest without a warrant any person committing in his view any offence against this Act, or any person against whom he has received credible information of having committed an offence against this Act, if the name and address of the accused person is unknown to the officer, and if such person, on demand, declines to give his name and address or gives a name and address which such officer has reason to believe to be false.
(2) When the true name and address of a person arrested under sub-section (1) have been ascertained, he shall be released on his executing a bond, with or without sureties, to appear before a Magistrate if so required:
Provided that if such person is not resident in Bangladesh, the bond shall be secured by a surety or sureties resident in Bangladesh.
(3) If the true name and address of such person is not ascertained within twenty-four hours from the time of arrest, or if he fails to execute the bond, or if so required, to furnish sufficient sureties, he shall forthwith be forwarded to the nearest Magistrate having jurisdiction.
— Bangladesh Cat Animal Welfare Protection