"Justice and the vulnerable: Extending the duty to prevent serious crimes against children to the protection of agricultural and research animals"Amanda Whitfort
Adelaide Law Review
2018, Volume 39, Issue 1
Abstract: Commencing in 2004, the United Kingdom, South Australia, and New Zealand have each introduced new laws to protect children from serious harm within the home. Members of a household in these jurisdictions living with a child can now be held accountable for neglecting to seek help or take preventative action if the child is killed or seriously injured. The new duty to protect children from serious crime within the home recognises the special vulnerability of victims within a closed environment. In New Zealand, the duty specifically extends to staff of institutions where children reside. In the same period, legislation has been expanded to protect animals from acts of negligence, as well as overt cruelty. In practice, however, many of the protections introduced do not apply to animals used in agriculture and research. Legal protection for farm animals has been further eroded by the introduction of so called 'ag-gag' laws. Historically, the recognition of the special vulnerability of children and animals caused their legal protections to develop in tandem. This article examines the case for extending the duty to prevent serious violent crimes against children in the home, to animals in laboratories, abattoirs and on farms. It concludes that effective protection of animals requires the imposition of a new legislative duty to prevent their unlawful serious harm.