The Netherlands is to get a special police unit focusing on radical animal rights activists, home affairs minister Guusje ter Horst announced at the weekend.
The unit will operate with the security services, public prosecution department and regional police forces to tackle and prevent criminal action by the animal rights lobby, she said.
The violence used by activists is ‘extreme and very dangerous’ and ‘an unacceptable form of intimidation directed at people who are simply doing their job,’ the minister told NOS tv news. ‘We must come down hard on in it, and that is what we will do.’
The minister’s comments come after two cars parked outside a house belonging to a senior executive at the Euronext stock exchange company were set on fire in Wassenaar on Friday night. Shares in British company Huntingdon Life Sciences, which carries out drugs tests on animals for the pharmaceuticals industry, are traded on Euronext.
No-one has yet claimed responsibility for that attack, but last month, arson attacks on two cars belonging to a Euronext worker in Hilversum were claimed by a group calling itself the NYSE Euronext Bomb Squad.
The NRC says the animal rights activists appear to have borrowed tactics from the British group SHAC that targets people and companies who work with Huntingdon.
A spokesman for the Dutch animal rights group Respect voor Dieren (respect for animals) said the organisation has no problem with this sort of attack. ‘We think the fact that animals are used in pointless experiments is worse. Cars do not have feelings,’ the NRC quoted him as saying.
A spokesperson for minister Ter Horst said the special unit was not being set up in direct response to these attacks.
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