By Annette Gartland
21 October 2019
The 11th Asia for Animals (AfA) symposium, which has just taken place in Dalian, China, was focused on how laws can be used creatively to protect nonhuman animals. Delegates heard presentations from lawyers, academics, and activists from Asia, the United States, Australia, and Europe. More than four hundred people attended AfA 2019. They ranged from people working on the ground in rescue and rehabilitation organisations to animal advocates, veterinarians, scientists, government officials, scholars, and those working in education. The biennial event was this year co-organised by the Animals for Asia Coalition and the Vshine Animal Protection Association, based in Dalian.
Speakers from China emphasised that local regulations in the country are very effective, but said that the Wildlife Protection Act was about using animals as resources rather than protection and welfare, and needed further revision.
National anti-cruelty legislation is urgently needed, speakers said. China’s wildlife protection legislation was revised in 2016 and now covers hunting, and selling wildlife items on the Internet. There are strong deterrent penalties and a new draft list of protected species, but the law allows commercial trade in protected wildlife and their products. Previous to the new draft, China’s wildlife conservation list had only been updated once since it was released in 1989. In 2003, the authorities upgraded the protection status for musk deer.
Amanda Whitfort, who teaches Criminal Litigation and Animal Law at the University of Hong Kong’s Law Faculty, told AfA delegates about the use of public interest litigation in China in animal welfare cases. This, Whitfort says, has the capacity to impact very significantly on the way animal abuse is dealt with in China. China’s public interest litigation framework is extremely advanced, Whitfort says, and it is growing and gaining strength.“Since its formal adoption in 2012 Chinese environmental public interest litigation has gone beyond just recognition of individuals’ rights to sue for environmental harms and now it gives procuratorates the power to initiate actions against government officials for abuses of animals when they are combined with criminal prosecutions,” she told delegates... Click here to read the full text.