Animal rights activists want to ban the use of fireworks


One of the signs placed on a tree around Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, opposing the use of fireworks during the Christmas holidays. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Animal rights activist Nalini Dial said the proposed changes to the law to regulate the use of fireworks would not reduce the threat of loud fireworks which she said should be banned outright.

The attorney general’s office said on Wednesday it had taken note of bugle calls to overhaul fireworks legislation. On Friday, the AG’s office said the bill was “not government policy but the overall work of the Law Reform Commission (LRC), an independent and autonomous statutory body.”

He added that the LRC’s recommendations to Cabinet were based on a detailed analysis of previous consultations, the work of a special joint committee, the current law and judicial precedents.

In formulating proposals, the Commission considered two scenarios: the imposition of strict bans against the import, sale and use of fireworks and a balance between the values ​​of safety and entertainment by regulating the industry through a system of authorizations and classification.

A statement from the GA’s office said the Commission chose to prosecute the latter because the application of a total ban would essentially end the industry, causing significant losses to suppliers, leading to unemployed people also fostering smuggling illegal fireworks.

The bill proposed that fireworks be fired only with police permission, on public holidays and on December 31 at the hours of 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. respectively. No landfill is allowed near a hospital, a retirement home, a zoo, a forest reserve, a national park or an animal farm. Members of the public and stakeholders have until January 26 to submit their views before Cabinet considers the bill.

Dial said: “As chairman of the Fireworks Use Sufferers group, I was hopeful and delighted to hear from AG Faris Al-Rawi that he was going to make changes to the fire regulations. artifice under section 99 of the Summary Offenses Act, only to quickly have our hopes dashed and to be grossly disappointed. “

She said her organization had been protesting for nine years against the indiscriminate and illegal use of fireworks.

“After several years of letters, phone calls, interviews and public protests from many other members of society, it is evident that we cannot get any proper form of redress, nor from the TTPS. (police department), government and perpetrators. This is the reason why his group was formed and we started to protest every New Year’s Day in different places.

Dial recalled that police once told her they would need 100,000 officers to enforce the fireworks law.

“This remark alone confirmed to me how widespread this form of anarchy is, and that the legislation regarding the use of fireworks was unnecessary, ineffective and utterly abused.”

She asked what the purpose of the bill was.

She said her group was willing to discuss with the GA about her proposals and suggestions, but we maintain that once the sale and use of fireworks cannot be supervised and regulated to the point where the law can be applied, the only alternative is an outright ban. on publicly sold fireworks. “

Another group, the Animal Welfare Network (AWN), in a separate statement released Friday said it receives reports of lost and injured animals every year after Divali until New Years.

In a submission to the Special Joint Committee of Parliament which investigated the adverse effects of fireworks (2017), the group provided the results of a 2017 survey of 20 veterinary clinics in Trinidad, which found that 95 percent reported an overwhelming demand for sedatives in the run-up to peak fireworks use, 80 percent reported treating fireworks-related injuries ranging from burns and lacerations to animals struck by cars, and 80 percent have received reports of lost dogs. The investigation focused on clinics in the north (4), center (5), east (7) and south (4) of Trinidad. Some differences were noted, in that clinics in central Trinidad saw more cases during Divali.

The group does not support the Summary Offenses (Amendment) Bill of 2021, in its current form “because it does little to prevent the indiscriminate use of fireworks on public holidays and New Year’s Eve and cause serious damage to animals ”.

Rather, he suggested an outright ban on sale and use by the public and restrictions on where it can be used on public holidays once the necessary permit has been granted.

The group also advised a transition to “silent” or low noise fireworks at special events.

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