Investigation reveals ‘horrific’ export of livestock ‘tortured’ in the Middle East

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Livestock caked in excrement. Image courtesy of Eurogroup for Animals
Livestock caked in excrement. Image courtesy of Eurogroup for Animals

Related tags Middle east European union Eu Beef Lamb Livestock

Europe’s livestock exports to the Middle East are under fire after a clandestine investigation revealed “horrific” footage detailing animal abuse, including alleged torture of cows in Lebanon. 

The European Commission has been accused of “abject failure​” in upholding EU welfare regulations concerning livestock exported from Europe to Turkey, the Middle East and northern Africa.

An eight-month investigation by Animals International (AI), Tierschutzbund Zürich (TSB) and Eurogroup for Animals revealed footage of what it claimed was EU livestock, subjected to transport and slaughter methods in the Middle East that are outlawed in the EU.

Farmers will be ‘mortified’

This investigation reveals an abject failure by EU officials to monitor live animal export,​” said AI’s EU director, Gabriel Paun.

Animals raised in European care are being transported in manners that are in breach of EU regulations and they are enduring horrific slaughter practices in breach of international agreements.​”

“EU farmers and the general community will be mortified to see how the animals raised in European care are being treated,​” he said.

Evidence handed to Brussels

Footage from the eight-month investigation, which ran from June 2016 to February 2017, showed what was claimed to be a host of abuses​, including: EU cows tortured with electric prods in Lebanon; bulls’ throats hacked at with knives in Palestine; use of full inversion slaughter boxes in Turkey; and livestock covered in excrement after being unloaded in Turkey.

Abhorrent footage also claims to depict fully conscious cows hoisted to the ceiling by one rear leg before their throats were cut in Turkish slaughterhouses.

The animal rights’ bodies said they will provide evidence to the European Commission and EU ministers of the alleged mishandling and mistreatment of livestock in third world countries.

They claimed the concerned livestock was exported from Ireland, France, Romania, Lithuania, Hungary, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain.

What the trio of bodies want is an EU-wide strategy that incentivise the phasing-out of all live animal transports, replacing them with carcase and meat trade. If this does not happen, the bodies want steps taken to reduce transportation time of live animal exports to destinations outside the EU, and a government-registered vet accompanying livestock shipments by sea.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the EU’s Transport Regulation also applies outside EU borders, until animals reach their final destinations,​” said director of Eurogroup for Animals Reineke Hameleers.

This ruling is not being abided by and animals continue to be exported in horrible conditions. Not only is this illegal, it is also immoral and unnecessary, as all of the cited destination countries also import lots of chilled and frozen meat.​”

A spokesman from EU farming body, Copa-Cogeca, told this site: “The EU has some of the highest welfare standards in the world for transport which European farmers mostly comply with, otherwise they face sanctions. We provide guidance to the sectors and we expect transporters across the world to comply with these.​”

The European Commission could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.

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