A recent investigation has found that live animals that are being exported from EU countries are being subjected to abuse, illegal transportation conditions, and inhumane slaughter, according to reports from the Guardian. They wrote the report after obtaining dozens of undercover videos and photographs, which show live cattle and sheep “being beaten, shocked with electric prods, held for days in overcrowded pens and covered head to toe in faeces as they are transported from Europe to their final destinations in Turkey and the Middle East in conditions that breach European law.” Once the animals have reached their destination, some of them are slaughtered straight away in appalling conditions. The footage shows cattle and sheep from France, Romania and Lithuania kicking and flailing around violently as their throats are cut or sawed at repeatedly, which is an act that often takes place in crowded street markets and run-down abattoirs.
The disturbing footage was collected over an eight month period by campaigners from the Australian animal rights charity Animals International, as they worked undercover in Croatia and six Middle Eastern countries to follow animals from their departure at European ports through to their destination. The clear evidence in the footage shows that many European laws have been breached in almost every country that the campaigners visited. The current European legislation states that exported livestock must receive particular standards of care throughout their entire journey. Animal handlers must carry out any task necessary without using violence or any method that is likely to cause fear, injury or suffering to the animal. All transport and loading equipment must be designed, maintained and operated to avoid injury and suffering, and all should be conducted at a minimal time length.
The Guardian spoke to an Italian law firm who specialize in animal rights, shipping, and transport law, called Conte & Giacomini, and asked them to review the gathered evidence. They said, “We might deem that the transports shown in the footage are all in breach of the [EU] Regulation EC No 1/2005 [on the protection of animals in transport]. Moreover, we could also state that, according to the ruling of the European court of justice and to the interpretation of the regulation EC No 1/2005, the competent authorities of the member states of departure shouldn’t even have authorized these transports as they couldn’t ensure that provisions would be met.”
The footage was taken at an EU port in Croatia, featuring animals from Germany, Hungary, Romania, Poland and Slovenia, who are being kicked, beaten and shocked with electric prods to the anus while they are being loaded onto the ship. The report also states that “a sheep is shown being picked up by an animal handler and thrown onto the boat; cows slide backward on to each other while trying to climb steep loading ramps.” Additional footage that was also filmed at a port in Turkey, which shows cattle being unloaded from a vessel that had been traveling from Ireland for two weeks, before being loaded into a cramped open-topped truck for the next part of the journey. The animal’s hair was thick with feces from the long journey.
Reports also state that exports of livestock from the EU to the Middle East have rapidly increased in recent years. Figures show that the exports of cattle have doubled since 2014, whilst sheep exports have risen by a quarter to 2.5 million. EU officials, member states and animal rights groups have repeatedly claimed that law enforcement, with regards to these incidents, is poor across much of the continent. After seeing the footage, MEPs from Germany, France, Lithuania, and Finland are calling on the European commission for stronger enforcement of existing laws and an extension of legislation to cover the slaughter of European-bred animals in third countries.