(QCOSTARICA) The Constitutional Court (Sala Constitucional or Sala IV) has declared unconstitutional for being “disproportional” the fines in the draft bill against animal abuse, “Ley de Bienestar Animal”.
The Court said “reasonableness and proportionality” were violated, specifically articles 279 bis, 279 ter and 405 bis.
Article 279 bis calls for a prison sentence for cruelty, including the organization and execution of fights between animals, perform sexual acts with them, or for cutting or damaging organs or limbs for purposes other than research. As to 279 ter, it is the definition of death of animals as an offense, when done willfully, directly or through another person. In 405 bis, it is where sanctions of 20 to 50 days imprisonment for those who perform acts of animal abuse or abandon them, placing their lives at risk.
The Court’s unanimous decision was announced on Wednesday (Sept 21) and reported to the Legislature by Magistrate Nancy Hernandez.
The draft bill also imposes monetary fines, from one to two base (minimum) salaries for cruelty to animals that includes causing physical discomfort and pain, not providing treatment for disease, malnutrition and dehydration, among others.
The draft bill was approved in first debate on July 26, with 50 legislators in favour and four against. The draft bill was then sent to the Constitutional Court for analysis before submitted to second and final vote.
With the Constitutional Court ruling, the draft bill is now returned to the Legislature, to be analyzed by the Committee on Affairs of Constitutionality, before it can be re-submitted to debate and vote before it can become into law.
Some websites this morning published very ambiguous headlines, leading the reader to believe the Court struck down the draft law in its entirety. In reality, if and once the penalties are adjusted, the law could take effect !!