Donkeys being driven to doom

The arbitrary slaughter of donkeys for meat and skin without control or resource allocation towards conservation and research is contrary to the constitution. Under the Meat control Act (local slaughterhouse) Regulations, 2012; section 3 part 1 gives power to the Director of Veterinary Services to authorise operationalisation of a slaughterhouse through a gazette notice.

In article 46, 1, c, of the constitution 2010, protection of consumers health, safety and economic rights are guaranteed. In chapter 5, part 2 article 69, 1, a, e, g, h and 2 explicitly talk of responsible utilisation of natural resources, conservation of biodiversity and control of exploitation for the sake of future generations. Under the subsequent article 70, the law allows for public legal redress against environmental damage without the need for proof of damage or injury to a person.

Under article 71, exploitation of any natural resource at the magnitude of the donkey meat and skin, trade demands that there should have been a parliamentary approval before the trade was allowed to go on.

In the 4th schedule of the Kenya constitution, part 1, section 22 and 30 apply. The government has yet to show an intention to protect the animals and also to enact the veterinary policy, which is supposed to guide the exploitation of animals. This, therefore, exposes the country to the threat of loss of its national natural resource.

In the same schedule part 2, section 1c talks of county abattoirs, thus making the proper supervision of the donkey slaughterhouses by national government hard, yet they are mainly for the export market. In part 2 section 2, e and 6 demand for good welfare services and veterinary care provided by county governments, yet the donkeys have been exposed to vast cruelty and poor vet services contrary to this aspect of the constitution.

The donkey slaughterhouses are also supposed to implement directly and fully both provisions of Codex Alimentarius, the Meat Control Act, Cap 356 and the superior Public Health Act, Cap 242, in terms of gazettement of a donkey as a food animal.

The buildings of slaughterhouses should also have some standards. A meat inspection code must also be provided. Whereas the Meat Control Act has declared donkey as a food animal and partly provides for the building standards for donkey abattoir, it does not provide a code of hygienic practices for donkey meat. Neither does it provide for environmental health measures.

The Public Health Act is overarching in matters of health of humans. It provides in section 16 that other laws comply with it and it would prevail on them in case of any conflict. The Public Health Act does declare the food animals but in section 131 prohibits unwholesome food based on the judgement of authorised officers. The Public Health Act provides rules for inspection of animals intended for human consumption and a code of hygienic practice, under Legal Notice 14 of 1956.

The Cabinet Secretary responsible for Health ought to be involved in regulating donkey meat intended for human consumption, which is within his powers as set out in section 134 of the Public Health Act.

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