Advocates for legislation
A draft animal protection law was created in 2009 by a committee of legal academics, chaired by Professor Chang Jiwen. However, the draft has recently been changed into an ‘anti-cruelty law’.
All animal protectionists, including members of ACTAsia, are obviously very pleased about the beginning of the process to create animal protection legislation in China. It is potentially a big step forward, provided that it really meets its goal of protecting animals. Any amendment of laws once they are adopted has proven to be very hard and time-consuming in other countries, especially as animal welfare doesn’t have a high priority on most political agendas. Therefore, ACTAsia is putting all its efforts into trying to make the law as animal-friendly as possible right from the beginning.
We have set up a team of experts which includes lawyers from the US and Europe who have specialised in animal protection legislation. With their advice we have submitted extensive recommendations to the drafting committee for improvement of the first draft of the animal protection law.
When the second draft was released, which focuses on anti-cruelty measures, we have also provided our feedback. Our China Manager, Isobel Zhang, expressed our concerns at the International Forum on Chinese Legislation for the Protection and Management of Animals, which was held the 26th and 27th of March.
Our main concerns about shifting from animal protection to a narrower focus on anti-cruelty are that:
- The basic needs of animals, and the human duty of care to meet these needs, are not mentioned. Animals have intrinsic value and should be protected against exploitation, neglect and cruelty.
- The core concepts of the draft -‘cruelty’ and ‘unnecessary suffering’ – are as such vague, and provide loopholes to justify various cases of institutionalised animal abuse, for economic reasons.