Judiciary must take lead in creating awareness about link between animal abuse, other forms of violence
In addition to having a reputation for being an environmentally conscious member of the judiciary, Justice Sharma has delivered landmark judgments, such as granting the status of a living entity to River Ganga and the animal kingdom.
The judgment from Chief Justice Sanjoy Karol and Justice Arindham Lodha banning animal sacrifice in the temples of Tripura is another example of an informed judgment
All over the world, the judiciary is taking note of animal cruelty, and intervening in areas where the executive is too lazy, indifferent, or too conscious of their vote banks to intervene
Researchers have found that 43 percent of US school shooters, between 1988 and 2012, had histories of animal abuse
Some of our judges are beginning to understand what animal cruelty does to a nation and are starting to act on it. Acting Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Courts, Justice Rajiv Sharma, has written some of the finest judgments on animal cruelty, which should be taught to all judges as part of training courses.
In addition to having a reputation for being an environmentally conscious member of the judiciary, Justice Sharma has delivered landmark judgments, such as granting the status of a living entity to River Ganga and the animal kingdom. And, when the mind deepens and expands, it understands injustice and suffering for all, so I am not surprised that Justice Sharma has also delivered important judgments such as the deletion of caste information from FIRs, directives for preventing farmer suicides, abolishing the age-old system of solitary confinement for death penalty convicts, and a series of other reformist orders in the realms of education, health, and mental health.
The judgment from Chief Justice Sanjoy Karol and Justice Arindham Lodha banning animal sacrifice in the temples of Tripura is another example of an informed judgment.
The public interest litigation was filed by a former judicial service officer, Subhas Bhattacharjee, in 2018. This is a welcome judgment, because it clearly understands the greed of priests and the economic roots of inventing such a ritual. It also understands that barbaric rites have no place in a civilised society — not even when they are paraded under the banner of 'culture'.
For the first time in 525 years, there will be no sacrifices at the Durga Bari temple in Agartala. And that is wonderful.
All over the world, the judiciary is taking note of animal cruelty, and intervening in areas where the executive is too lazy, indifferent, or too conscious of their vote banks to intervene.
On 19 August, 2019 the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) released a resolution regarding animal cruelty and its link to other forms of violence. This is what the resolution says:
"Empirical research demonstrates a direct link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence, including partner abuse, child abuse, and elder abuse. In homes where serious animal abuse has occurred, there is an increased probability that some other type of family violence is also happening. The NCJFCJ is committed to upholding the rights of all parties and victims, the safety of all family members, and the safety of the community. Animal cruelty is a crime of violence and may be indicative of past or future violent acts."
Researchers have found that 43 percent of US school shooters, between 1988 and 2012, had histories of animal abuse.
The NCJFCJ recognizes that in the context of juvenile and family court cases, including cases of domestic violence, the court should consider the welfare of abused animals in reaching its decisions.
Abuse of a companion animal is one of the four most significant risk factors for someone becoming a domestic abuser and is an indicator of violent behaviour. Eighty-nine percent of women, who had companion animals during an abusive relationship, reported that their animals were threatened, harmed, or killed by their abuser. Children who exhibit cruelty towards animals are more than twice as likely to exhibit violent behaviours.
"As judicial officers, it is our responsibility to consider the importance of animals as family members in juvenile and family law decisions,” said Judge John J Romero, Jr, NCJFCJ president. "The NCJFCJ is calling for judges to consider the time and resources necessary to address animal cruelty allegations associated with cases that come before their bench to achieve just results and prevent future violence against both humans and animals."
The NCJFCJ will collaborate with animal welfare organisations and experts to develop, and make available, educational resources and training to assist judges in better understanding the issues and implications of juvenile and family court cases involving animal cruelty.
Earlier this year, the NCJFCJ and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) held the first-ever judicial convention on animal cruelty. The meeting resulted in the resolution and the creation of the new technical assistance bulletin, 'Animal Abuse Issues: What Juvenile and Family Court Judges Need to Know', which aims to provide guidance for judicial officers regarding the link between animal cruelty and family, and interpersonal violence; and animal cruelty in relation to family violence, child abuse and neglect, juvenile offender, and elder abuse cases.
Judges all over the world are in a unique leadership position to spearhead an understanding of the link between animal abuse and other forms of violence. Their judgments can lead to sustainable solutions to build safer communities for both, humans and animals alike. Are they the only enforcers of the law who think that animal crime and crime in general are related? No.
From 1 January, 2019 , acts of cruelty against animals are now counted along with felony crimes like arson, burglary, assault, and homicide in the FBI’s criminal database. The Bureau’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is now collecting detailed data from law enforcement agencies on acts of animal cruelty, including gross neglect, torture, organised abuse, and sexual abuse, from 18,000 city, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies. Their studies show that cruelty to animals is a precursor to larger crime.
In the United States, a sheriff is an official in a county, or independent city, responsible for keeping the peace and enforcing the law. Many sheriffs have the role of a police chief. The National Sheriffs’ Association has been a leading advocate for adding animal cruelty as a data set in the FBI's collection of crime statistics.
The association for years has cited studies linking animal abuse and other types of crimes — most famously, murders committed by serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz. The organisation also points out the overlap animal abuse has with domestic violence and child abuse. “If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting a human,” said John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association.
"Identifying and analysing animal cruelty crimes will provide an important tool for law enforcement. People need to shed the mindset that animal cruelty is a crime only against animals. It’s a crime against society. By paying attention to these crimes, we benefit all of society."
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