2016 Investigation about live animal transport from EU

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Eurogroup for Animals #StopTheTrucks Campaign

Investigation reveals brutal treatment of European exported livestock

Animals International with Tierschutzbund Zürich/Animal Welfare Foundation (TSB/AWF) have conducted a landmark one year investigation documenting horrific handling and slaughter of European animals exported to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Palestine. These long investigations, which took place in 2016, provide evidence revealing clear breaches of both European regulations and international agreements.

Animal transport cruelty during road transport

The investigation proves the journey for animals being sent from EU by road to Turkey and the Middle East often lasts several days, if not nearly a week, and the animals suffer from severe exhaustion, dehydration, injuries, disease, resulting even in death. Not even the weak, newly born and highly pregnant heifers are spared this adversity. While travelling, young calves are prevented from being weaned by their mothers, remain unfed, are forced to stand for hours at a time in over-crowded trucks, which often proves to be fatal. All animals appear to undergo the same ordeal.

Another 5 year study carried out between 2010-2016 by Eyes on Animals and TSB/AWF demonstrated 70% of live export trucks inspected at the Bulgarian border (a major exit for EU animals) were breaching the EU Transport Regulation. Investigators found animals, such as sheep, starving, without water, parked in direct sunlight, and waiting 5 days before continuing their journey. Packed tightly together, young lambs were often trampled to death while the elders were left standing on their carcasses.

Suffering aboard livestock ships

The latest investigation released by Animals International and TSB/AWF reveals animal cruelty in EU live animals export through shipping. Despite vessels enroute from European ports to the Middle East or North Africa, carrying animals for up to 10 days, there is no requirement for a veterinarian to accompany them. Animals have no access to veterinary care although they are in a high risk, high stress environment of changing sea and weather conditions. Sick animals remain untreated and dead animals are normally being found on ships once they arrive at their destination countries. There is no requirement to keep statistics as to mortalities.

Many of the vessels carrying livestock are even up to 35 years old: they were never designed to do so and have infrastructure faults that result in injuries and distress of animals. Animals have often already endured days of transport on trucks without proper access to food, water and rest – before being forced from trucks onto loading ramps into live export vessels. Investigations reveal unwilling and exhausted animals stumbling and falling before being subjected to horrific electric prod use including in their anus.

Barbaric slaughtering methods documented

Videos captured by Animals International investigators reveal EU exported animals being subjected to horrific slaughter methods in importing countries. Footage from Turkish slaughterhouses shows terrified bulls being fully hoisted by one leg to the ceiling before having their throats cut. In Lebanese slaughterhouses footage shows partial hoisting of fully conscious cattle and their torture with electric prods before their throats are slashed. In the Palestine petrified animals were being brutally restrained by ropes and strung between poles before having their throats hacked open. Footage captured shows similarly disturbing treatment of baby animals in Egypt.

The investigation also documented the extended suffering of animals in full inversion slaughter boxes (tipping terrified animals upside down to have their throats cut) in Turkey, Palestine and Egypt. In addition, the brutal handling and slaughtering of Portuguese and Romanian sheep was documented in Palestine and Jordan.

The mistreatment that has been documented in the Middle East not only breaches international agreements, but is not even in accordance with Islamic principles of reducing animal suffering to the minimum during their slaughter. Countries such as Egypt are known to have some of the cruelest animal killing methods in the world, like cattle tendon slashing and eye stabbing to disable these animals before slaughtering them. Yet it is one of major destinations for cattle from Europe.

Statistics around EU livestock exports

Every year, well over 2 million cattle and sheep throughout the European Union are exported by sea and road to Turkey, North Africa, and the Middle East despite these countries having no laws that protect animals from brutal treatment. Even though the European Commission and livestock exporting Member States have long been made aware of the extreme cruelty such animals are being subjected to, both have been actively seeking to increase the export of EU animals. In 2015 the European livestock export value increased 25.2% compared to 2014, and increased further in 2016. In the first nine months of 2016 EU export of live animals increased to 17.2% in comparison to the same period in 2015 [*]. Meanwhile, 2015 Eurostat data confirms that more than 90% of animals (expressed in tons) exported from EU to Middle East have been going to the Middle East countries where Animals International and TSB/AWF carried out their investigation (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt), which alarmingly represents the 60% of the total EU animals export.

EU exports animals to countries without any associated requirements as to how they must be treated and slaughtered despite the Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) requirement that states decision makers of member state must “pay full regard to” animal welfare in formulating and implementing EU agriculture policy.

Live animal export trade is operating in clear breach of EU regulations, policies and international agreements

This investigation reveals a complete failure by EU officials to enforce and oversee regulations and policies implemented to protect EU animals from such suffering.

In 2015 the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled (Zuchtvieh-Export, Case C‑469/14) that the provisions of the Council Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport apply not only to the EU, but also to the entire journey of European animals to other countries, all the way to their final destination. However, non-EU countries still lack unloading, feeding, watering and resting infrastructure for the animals, as well as basic veterinary care. Despite that, the trade continues, along with the suffering, which clearly runs contrary to the rulings of the supreme court of the EU.

Exporting live animals from the EU to other countries is immoral and unnecessary. That is why it is necessary to stop live animal transport as soon as possible!


[*] Several increases in 2016 European livestock export has been registered from EU to the Middle East (+190% to Israel, +76% to Egypt and +67% to Libya).

Published in March, 2017.

Related Topics

Animal transport 2016 [ 655.99 Kb ]


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