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Europol and Eurojust hold joint conference on animal rights extremism


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Europol, the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency, and Eurojust, the EU agency that deals with cross-border judicial cooperation, are currently supporting a number of on-going enquiries in member states involving crimes committed by some extremists in the name of animal rights.

The conference in The Hague, which followed a tactical meeting on the same issue at Eurojust’s headquarters in April, was attended by 58 experts from law enforcement and prosecution authorities, along with representatives from 35 private sector organisations. 

Among the trends identified was the increased use of improvised incendiary and explosive devices by animal rights extremists. Such devices seem to be becoming commonplace in campaigns against both individuals and organisations with links to animal research.

Other tactics singled out for concern were threatening email and phone calls, intimidation of targets’ families, trespassing and physical assault.

The conference also heard of the increasing cooperation between different extremist groups, including anarchists, who appear to be assisting each other and sharing strategies.

Rob Wainright, Director of Europol, said: “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.”

Experts warned of the tendency to underestimate the significance of the threat, and of the links between separate ‘direct actions’ carried out in different countries. Forensic analysis has clearly shown that similar methods and devices have been used in a number of attacks across the EU.

This evidence, as well as the collaboration between different groups, point to the increasingly international orchestration of violent animal rights extremism.

The conference identified the need for increased coordination of law enforcement at international level, as well as greater awareness at local police and judicial level. To develop a more efficient approach to tackling the phenomenon, Europol and Eurojust recommended the wider exchange of information among member states on attacks, prosecutions and convictions in cases of animal rights extremism.

Further recommendations included a renewal of the EU-level dialogue on animal welfare and the development of a legitimate platform for all parties to express their concerns.

Also discussed was the possibility of closer collaboration and exchange of technical data between the law enforcement and corporate security communities, and the development of a common strategy to promote greater cooperation between EU institutions and relevant parts of the private sector.