A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
CONSTITUTIONAL JOINT REVIEW COMMITTEE
15 June 2007
ANIMAL RIGHTS PROTECTION: FEEDBACK FROM DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Chairperson: Dr E Schoeman (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Animal Care and Protection (ACP): Ensuring the Sustainability of animal agriculture in South Africa
Progress with Development of Effective Infrastructure for Administration of Relevant Legislation, Interventions and Activities Involving Animals
Animal Identification in terms of Animal Identification Act, 2002: Booklet
Guidelines for Urban and Peri-Urban Animal Agriculture: Booklet
Guidelines on Animal Traction: Booklet
Audio Recording of the Meetin: Part1, Part2, Part3 & Part4
Representatives from the Directorate of Animal and Agriculture Production in Department of Agriculture gave a presentation on the concept of Animal Care and Protection. The presentation considered legislation pertinent to the concept and problems with existing legislation. It also highlighted the efforts on behalf of the Department of Agriculture to address its oversight. Finally it looked at new developments in guidelines, norms and standards, as well as the publications by the Directorate of Animal and Agriculture Production, and their implementation program for 2007. The subsequent discussion looked at whether amendments to the Constitution were needed to aid animal protection rights, the differentiation among animals regarding protection, identification and registration of livestock and ritual slaughter.
Animal Care and Protection (ACP) presentation by Department of Agriculture (DoA)
Mr Keith Ramsay, Senior Livestock Specialist at the Directorate of Animal and Agriculture Production in Department of Agriculture, spoke about the legislation pertinent to the concept and problems with existing legislation, which included the emphasis on the prevention of cruelty rather than the care of animals. The presentation also highlighted the efforts on behalf of the DoA to redress the oversight, and these included: policy formulation, response to cabinet and ministerial enquiries, and the establishment of a working group on ACP. Activities were also initiated to establish or amend guidelines, norms and standards. He looked at the role of the ACP programme, its strategic partners, links to animal production activities, inputs and interventions. Also looked at were the new developments in guidelines, norms and standards, as well as the publications by the Directorate of Animal and Agriculture Production, and their implementation program for 2007 (see documents).
The Chairperson thanked Mr Ramsay for his presentation. He noted that the Committee's reason for inviting him to speak was due to requests by the public to strengthen the Constitution on the matter of animal care.
Mr Gaum (ANC) asked what the opinion of the DoA was about additional protection for animals in the Constitution by means of amendments.
Mr Ramsay replied that if the current Act was applied correctly, it would be effective. However, the legal responsibility (or punitive mechanism) was missing from the legislation, which was needed. He said that no further amendments to the Constitution were necessary though. The current process, unaided by legal responsibility, was far too involved. It required far too much effort to monitor the adherence to the legislation. He suggested that more awareness could also be created, to make it easier.
Mr Jeffery (ANC) asked what DoA defined as an animal, as the animal kingdom was a vast kingdom that also includes invertebrates.
Mr Ramsay replied that the definition of animal was debatable and could be developed further, however the current definition included the vertebrates. The Department was seeking advice on the matter so that there would be a specific definition with regard to what can be classified as an animal.
Mr Burgess (ANC) asked where the line was drawn regarding the care of animals who were slaughtered for their meat or other products and were not protected by this legislation as well as those who are protected but still abused. He asked which animals are protected from being slaughtered. He also asked what protective mechanisms were in place for circus animals.
Mr Ramsay replied that people have the right to eat meat, but when slaughtering, it must be ensured that animals are treated well while they are still alive, and slaughtered humanely. He said that the issue could not be resolved overnight, but more awareness was needed about the proper slaughtering of animals.
He said that there was a reduction in the use of animals in circuses because they were expensive to maintain and also due to public concern for the animals. He added that circus ethics are being put in place in South Africa. Ultimately such issues cannot be addressed by legislation, but rather through a gradual attitudinal change.
Mr Ramsey said it was difficult to draw a line, but a culture of caring needed to be created and regulated. He said it also made economic sense to be more caring, citing the example of stressed chickens not being productive, and the concern shown by certain consumers regarding the treatment of animals. What was needed, he said, was to ensure that legislation helped in the care of animals.
Dr Siegfried Meyer, Deputy Director: Animal Health Directorate, said that he had found only one reference to animal care in the Constitution (in Schedule 5 Part B) where it referred to facilities for the accommodation, care and burial of animals. He personally felt that something needed to be done in the Constitution.
Dr Meyer then suggested South Africa should use NEPAD (New Partnership for African Development) to procure an African view on the subject of ritual slaughter. African norms and standards needed to be established. Regarding slaughtering of animals, the concept of humane slaughtering was a contradiction, but he argued that one needed to be accountable to be kind. Provisions in the Meat Slaughtering Act of 2000 regulated slaughtering inside and outside of the abattoir to ensure that ritual acts are performed well.
Ms Ndzanga (ANC) referred to animal identification and asked how one would be able to identify ownership as in the case of customs such as lobola. She asked if one could distinguish genuine ownership from livestock that are stolen.
Dr Meyer replied that the booklet on animal identification provided guidelines on the marking of livestock with registered marks. The marks identify the owner. Once ownership is transferred, new marks are made according to regulation so as to enable one to trace ownership. An awareness programme is currently being driven dealing with the registering and the marking of animals. However, some owners are reluctant to mark or register their livestock as it would make them accountable for their animals wandering on open roads, which might lead to accidents.
A committee member commented that he was glad that an African approach was mentioned, and asked how far the awareness programme had progressed in the rural areas and how it was being conducted.
Mr Jeffery (ANC) said that care should be taken not to transgress the mandate of the Committee as it was the task of the Committee to review the Constitution, not to implement it. Regarding the definition of protected animals, he said the impact on human health should also play a part in regulation. He asked if there was any overlap with other departments such as the Department of Environment and Tourism (DEAT), citing the example of fish farms. He asked if there was sufficient interaction across departments.
Mr Gaum (ANC) referred to the five freedoms of animals mentioned in the presentation and said that there was no reference to the freedom of life. He asked if there was differentiation in treatment between different classes of animals such as domestic and opposed to livestock, and on what bases was the differentiation founded.
Mr Ramsey replied that a framework was developed to ensure that everyone is included in policy development. Consultation takes place within SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) through a process of draft policy circulation, strategy, and legislation. Everybody would be roped into developing new policy while old legislation could be used in the interim to develop regulations. He was eager to use SADC so as to develop an African set of uniform standards. Regarding the overlap in departments, he said DoA was working with other departments such as DEAT. Where DoA was concerned mainly with agricultural development, DEAT would be involved in law enforcement. Work was also being done with the Department of Health and policy would usually be developed together with these departments.
Regarding the five freedoms, Mr Ramsey said they were international standards and further international codes were being developed to provide standards to aid in international trade, as some cultures might consume domesticated animals such as dogs. He acknowledged that there were not references to the right to life for animals, but re-emphasised that these were international standards.
The Chairperson agreed that the Committee’s mandate should not be transgressed. It was their role to ensure that adequate legislation was provided. Regarding the festival in Kwazulu Natal that requires a bull to be killed with one's bare hands, he asked if the Department had someone to monitor the process and intervene if necessary. If not, was it due to lack of legislative mandate or political sensitivity?
Dr Meyer said that the lack of monitoring and enforcement was mainly due to political sensitivity and ones constitutional right to culture. However he said that it was not the role of DoA to be involved in law enforcement. He said that discussions were considered regarding alternatives to this ritual but it remained a very politically sensitive issue. He said that any suggestions were welcome. Dr Meyer re-emphasised that the role of the DoA was to administer legislation but not enforce it.
Mr Gaum again asked if different classes of animals are treated differently.
Dr Meyer replied that it depended on what the animals were used for and specific regulation was in place to deal with them accordingly. Even though different animals would in these cases be treated differently, their basic needs as alluded to in the five freedoms were met. As a general rule one should not deviate from the animal’s natural behaviour pattern. This made the specific treatment of different animals a complicated issue that would require the aid of professionals in animal behaviour.
Adoption of Committee 2006 Annual Report
The report could not be adopted due to various errors and omissions. The Committee decided that the report be adopted at a later date after its shortcomings had been redressed.
The meeting was adjourned.
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