The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill on Sunday that would make company executives responsible for animal abuse incidents that occur within their firms.
The bill, proposed by MKs Dov Henin (Hadash) and Amram Mitzna (HaTnua), intends to amend the Animal Welfare Law to place the onus of avoiding such incidents on corporate managers.
The Knesset members submitted the bill following a case in October 2013 regarding cattle abuse at Tnuva’s Adom Adom slaughterhouse in which workers and junior staff were prosecuted, but allegations against the senior management were dismissed.
“A large part of the harm to animals is caused by negligent conduct,” the bill’s explanatory notes said, providing examples of animals left alone in vehicles or in subpar conditions. “The imposition of responsibility for injuring animals, even regarding acts of diligence, reflects the notion that animals rely on us for better or for worse. They deserve protection not only against malicious behavior, but also against negligent and reckless behavior.”
In addition to Henin and Mitzna, a number of Knesset members from across the political spectrum pledged their support for the bill.
These included MKs Reuven Rivlin (Likud), Miri Regev (Likud), Eitan Cabel (Labor), Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), Yisrael Hasson (Kadima), Zehava Gal-On (Meretz), Merav Michaeli (Labor), Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), Nachman Shai (Labor) and Tamar Zandberg (Meretz).
The organizations Anonymous for Animal Rights and Let Animals Live praised the committee’s decision to support the bill, stressing that in many cases abuse is inflicted upon animals with the knowledge of a farm or company’s management – and is even considered “part of the work routine.”
“All industrial breeding of animals involves abuse, but the bill can ensure that at least minimal protection is granted to them,” a statement from the groups said.
The bill is slated to undergo a preliminary reading in the Knesset on Tuesday, which is the Knesset’s animal rights day.
“Animals are injured largely due to systemic problems that characterize corporate bodies,” Henin said. “The only way to cope is to impose personal liability on executives in corporate and other relevant systems.”