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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Massachusetts Primate Records Eyed by PETA

(CN) - Disclosing health-inspection certifications related to the transportation of primates through Massachusetts does not threaten public safety, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals claims in court.

The claim comes in a complaint PETA filed in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday, seeking unredacted documents related to two public-records requests it made on Massachusetts.

The first request seeks records related to the export and import of primates in Massachusetts last year, and the second asks for records related to the alleged safety risks posed to the animals, humans and buildings involved in housing and transporting primates.

The Department of Agricultural Resources and Commissioner Gregory Watson allegedly responded with heavily redacted documents that allegedly conceal all the desirable information.

"Defendants have provided PETA with redacted certificates of veterinary health inspections for non-human primates; the redactions improperly remove all information in the documents regarding the individuals, companies, and public research facilities to and from whom the animals were sent, and the veterinarians who inspected them," PETA's complaint states. "Without this information, the certificates are largely meaningless. Defendants claim this information is exempt from the Public Records Law because its disclosure would threaten public safety. There is no legal or factual support for this assertion."

The animal rights organization is famous for staging wild publicity stunts, and has refused to condemn organizations such as the Animal Liberation Front, which has freed lab animals and destroyed research facilities in the name of animal rights.

In one of the most famous of these actions , animal rights activists raided a laboratory at the University of California, Riverside, in 1985, and freed more than 450 animals, including a 5-week old macaque whose eyes had been sewn shut at birth as part of a sensory-deprivation study.

Passage by Congress of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act in 2006, however, criminalized any conduct that may damage or interfere with the operations of an animal enterprise, including intimidation.

This law significantly increased the penalties for direct action by animal rights activists.

PETA's complaint claims that "the department provided no evidence or explanation to support its conclusory assertion that disclosure of unredacted health inspection certificates could compromise the security of locations housing non-human primates. The department's assertion that disclosing these records would present a public safety risk is unsubstantiated and unreasonable."

The group is represented by David Milton with the Law Offices of Howard Friedman in Boston and in-house counsel Gabriel Walters in Washington, D.C.

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