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"The academic panel concluded that there appears to be little evidence to demonstrate that the welfare of animals kept in travelling circuses is any better or worse than that of animals kept in other captive environments" - Executive Summary of the DEFRA Circus Working Group 2007

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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Eurojust and Europol Hold Joint Conference on Animal Rights Extremism

Europol building in The HagueImage via WikipediaMy apologies for the tardiness of this post. Sadly the fact that this press release has only just come to our attention seems to be further proof of the lack of interest our media has in the investigation into the activities of animal rights activism

The Animal Liberation Front  has long been listed on the FBI's top 10 domestic terrorist threats. It is comparable with the "Earth Liberation Front", which has been listed as the number one domestic terrorist threat.

Despite "no harassment" laws being passed in response to the very aggressive and intimidating protesting tactics of SHAC (Stop Hunting Animal Cruelty), the public perception of the animal rights movement is regularly fuzzed by academics and appeals to emotion. It's hard enough trying to get across the message to people in the animal industry just what a hydra of problems the animal rights movement represent, let alone trying to convince Joe and Joanna Bloggs how dangerous these supposed "bunny huggers" really are.  

Anyway, it would appear that the threat is being acknowledged by Europe. The following press release was sent out jointly by Eurojust and Europol as a result of the conference they held in July.

The phenomenon of increased violence committed by some extremists in the name of animal rights is a growing cause for concern. In a major conference organised by Europol and Eurojust 58 experts from law enforcement and prosecution authorities, plus representatives from 35 private sector organisations, met last week at Europol’s new headquarters in The Hague to discuss the issues behind this new trend.While the defence of the rights of animals and their welfare is legitimate and fully supported by European Union institutions, the increase in violence by extremists remains a concern for all of the conference participants. An example is the increased use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and Improvised Incendiary Devices (IIDs).
Violent animal rights extremists do not hesitate in sending threatening emails or making warning phone calls to their targets, often intimidating their family and committing physical assaults on their property, in so-called home visits. This has resulted in arson attacks on cars and property. Single-issue extremist groups are also actively targeting the fur and pharmaceutical industries. This has included the mass release of animals and the destruction of feeding and water installations for the animals. Another tendency is that single-issue extremist groups (including anarchist groups) are supporting each others’ causes more and more.
“We are concerned by the increasing levels of violence used by animal rights extremists and their tendency to collaborate with other extremists in society.  Europol is committed to helping law enforcement authorities in the EU and partners in industry to prevent the further spread of this activity. The conference at Europol’s new headquarters was an important milestone in these efforts.” says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.
Together with a tactical meeting held at Eurojust in April 2011 on the same topic, the conference clearly identified the need for a wider exchange of information to provide the Member States’ authorities with a clear picture of ongoing criminal activities. There is a tendency to underestimate the importance of the phenomenon and of the links between criminal actions committed in different countries. Forensic analysis clearly demonstrates that some attacks committed in the EU have used the same modus operandi and that the devices used are similarly manufactured.
From the context of the conference, it became obvious that the violent criminal activities are often orchestrated at an international level. To this end, a need for increased law enforcement coordination at an international level was identified, as well as more awareness on a local police and judicial level.
The conference recommendations include:
  • Encouraging Member States’ authorities to prevent and fight all forms of violent criminal extremism and developing, at an EU level, a renewed dialogue on animal protection and animal welfare to allow all concerned parties to express their needs and concerns in a democratic way
  • Exploring the possibility of sharing technical data with the relevant parts of the corporate security community and their branch organisations, respecting the data protection regulations within Europol and Eurojust’s existing legal frameworks
  • Developing a common strategy with the corporate security community to further cooperation between EU institutions and the relevant parts of the private sector.
The above recommendations were supported by a conclusion that called for increased information exchange with Europol and Eurojust on attacks, prosecutions and convictions in animal rights extremism cases. This will lead to the identification of good practice, increased sharing of experience and ultimately a more efficient and coordinated approach in tackling the phenomenon.
Europol and Eurojust are currently supporting ongoing enquiries in a number of Member States that are linked to crimes committed in the name of animal welfare.
Final Note: Although the bulk of this release is quite encouraging, it is scary to think even people at this level muddy the water and cause further confusion: 
"While the defence of the rights of animals and their welfare is legitimate and fully supported by European Union institutions, the increase in violence by extremists remains a concern for all of the conference participants."

To the best of my knowledge there isn't a European Bill of Animal Rights. The "rights" of animals is only upheld in Germany and the Balearic Island. This is in connection to the "Great Ape Personhood" movement and has garnered a lot of criticism from the scientific community. The repercussions of these laws have to be seen. The concept of animal rights is a very scary thought indeed. Europe should be seeking to uphold and enforce laws concerning animal welfare.

"Europol and Eurojust are currently supporting ongoing enquiries in a number of Member States that are linked to crimes committed in the name of animal welfare."

Again, more confusion. None of the terrorist groups being investigated or perpetrators who have been prosecuted acted "in the name of animal welfare". Their websites and their statements make it absolutely clear that they did it in favour of the philosophical argument for "animal rights". Please see this blog's "Important Essay" section for more on why animal rights and animal welfare can not be reconciled and should not be confused.  

The FBI and Animal Rights: 

John E. Lewis (Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI)'s testimony on Animal Rights Extremism and Ecoterrorism. 

Circus The Truth was formed to counteract the misinformation spread by the animal rights agenda but in addition to fighting the corner for circus animals I think there is also a further need to promote and celebrate the circus in general, especially in Great Britain.
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