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ANIMAL LIBERATION: The social justice movement like no other before

Tara Ward (Animal Defenders Office): As any animal lawyer will tell you, the basic problem for animals is that the law regards them as property. Everything begins and almost ends there.

PAUL GREGOIRE: The High Court of Australia ruled in February that footage revealing greyhound trainers illegally using live rabbits as baits was inadmissible in court, as it had been obtained unlawfully. However, subsequent resulting evidence could be permitted, so those trainers will now face criminal charges.

Chief investigator at Animals Australia Lyn White engaged the services of a documentary photographer to covertly gather the live baiting evidence, after receiving an anonymous tip off in late 2014 about it happening at a western Sydney property.

White decided to take matters into her own hands in capturing the footage, as she believed a search warrant wouldn’t be issued based solely on an anonymous lead. And on receiving the footage, the RSPCA NSW went on to execute a warrant at the property.

At the time, the illegal practice of live baiting was rumoured to have been occurring in the greyhound industry for decades. However, as the laws and policies pertaining to animal welfare are often lacking in this country, until illegal methods were employed, it simply remained a rumour…

Over 2019, the NSW Liberal Nationals government and its counterpart in Canberra were both obsessed with “vegan vigilantes” and passing laws designed to silence their attempts to expose the cruel practices that go on within the animal agricultural industry.

Following nationwide animal rights actions on 8 April, PM Scott Morrison vowed he’d be cracking down on “green-collar criminals”. And by September, fresh ag-gag laws had been passed at the federal level, criminalising those who share information about agricultural businesses.

Meanwhile, back in this state, the Berejiklian government’s agricultural minister introduced the Right to Farm Bill, which sought to quadruple the fine applying to the controversial offence of aggravated trespass, as well as adding a three year prison term to the crime.

When it was pointed out by the broader activist community that these draconian amendments aimed at animal activists would penalise protesters of any creed, the bill was altered so that when it was finally passed, the new penalties only applied to “an offence that occurs on agricultural land”…

The Animal Defenders Office (ADO) is a national community legal centre that specialises in protecting animals and their defenders. ADO executive director Tara Ward co-founded the centre in 2014.

The senior solicitor asserts that over the last six years she’s found that as the laws don’t adequately protect animals, she’s spent most of her time defending people who break them in an attempt to keep animals safe and to uphold their rights.

Sydney Criminal Lawyers spoke to Ms Ward about why the law provides little protection to animals, what she believes is behind the current push to legislate ever-increasing ag-gag laws and how there are many who believe the next big social justice movement will be animal liberation…

As part of the interview, Tara Ward stated: “As any animal lawyer will tell you, the basic problem for animals is that the law regards them as property. Everything begins and almost ends there.

Animals are not legal entities equivalent to legal persons, with legally protected rights. That is the upshot of them having the status of property. And that means that animals’ interests will always come second to those of humans.

So, in that sense, our laws are structurally designed not to protect animals. The law protects human property rights in possessing animals, far more than it protects the interests of animals.

And these are fundamental interests, like being free, not being tortured or abused, or even more fundamentally, not being killed when they don’t want to die.”  SOURCE…

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