Friday, 21 September 2012

IAR Malta to partner in international conference on long-distance live transport

International Animal Rescue has been invited to be the main co-partner in a conference to be held in Valletta, Malta on 28 September entitled ‘Animal Suffering in Long-Distance Transport: Ask John Dalli.’ International speakers from different professional backgrounds will gather to present the arguments in favour of the review of the present rules on live animal transport, from welfare, legal, veterinary and parliamentary perspectives.

Millions of live animals are transported over long distances on European roads, sometimes for several days, only to be killed on arrival. This huge amount of suffering can easily be avoided by killing the animals in the nearest slaughterhouse to the farm and then transporting their meat and carcasses.

The  8 hours campaign was launched jointly by Animals’ Angels – an international organisation which has documented hundreds of cases of severe suffering endured by animals transported on long-distance journeys – together with Danish MEP Dan Jørgensen. The aim of the initiative is to limit the transport of animals for the purpose of slaughter to no longer than 8 hours.

On 15 March, the European Parliament adopted Written Declaration 49/2011 – signed by 395 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) – which calls on the EU institutions to establish a maximum 8 hour limit on the journeys of animals transported for the purpose of slaughter.

On 7 June 2012, representatives of over 100 European animal welfare NGOs and MEPs across the political spectrum handed in 1,103,248 signatures to European Commissioner for Health and Consumers, John Dalli from Malta, who is responsible for animal welfare in the European Union.

In front of the cameras, Mr Dalli announced that “by 2014 the Commission will publish a legislative proposal”, which would include live transport and transport times. On the same occasion, the Commissioner admitted that “some species of animals require a much lower figure than 8 hours”.

A few days later, Mr Dalli denied that he had ever promised a review of the rules on transport, and had his staff affirm that enforcement of the present rules was enough. Some of those rules have been in place for over 20 years and have never been enforced. Mr Dalli has provided no explanation as to why such rules would start to be enforced now.

Some of the norms contained in the present legislation cannot possibly be enforced. In some cases, scientific evidence is available which according to the present rules should prompt an immediate review of Regulation 1/2005.

Animal welfare organisations and MEPs have decided to fight back, rejecting the Commission’s attempt to dismiss their demands as irrelevant. Animal welfare and the defence of citizens’ fundamental rights come together in this campaign to stop the easily avoidable suffering of millions of animals.

A full-page advert has been published in The Times of Malta – the main newspaper in Mr Dalli’s home country – informing the public that “John Dalli is disregarding the suffering of millions of animals and the voice of European citizens”. It ends by asking Maltese electors “to remember what is happening when you vote in future elections”.

The advert also announces the conference  which is taking place on 28 September. An invitation to the conference was sent to Commissioner Dalli too, and his office has announced his intention to participate. Changes to the programme will be made according to Mr Dalli’s availability.
The 8 hours campaign will continue through further actions in the institutions and among citizens, until a proper time limit is established for the journeys of animals destined for slaughter.

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