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Millions of animals suffer as EU live exports repeatedly break the law

Nearly two million farm animals were exported live out of EU countries into Turkey from 2010 to 2015. An investigation into these exports has uncovered immense animal suffering as authorities have turned a blind eye to transporters repeatedly breaking the law.

The five year investigation, carried out by Eyes on Animals, Animal Welfare Foundation, and Tierschutzbund Zürich, supported by Compassion in World Farming, revealed that sheep, cows, and goats were illegally kept on trucks at the Turkish border for days on end in squalid conditions without being offloaded. They were given no shade in extremely high temperatures, and also endured a basic lack of food and water, with some animals exhibiting signs of extreme dehydration.

Injured, dying and birthing animals were left without any veterinary assistance, and dead animals were left on board among those still alive. Despite evidence of these conditions being brought to the attention of the authorities many times over the course of five years, no action was taken to put a stop to these practices.

Iris Baumgärtner, inspector from TSB|AWF, says: “This transport practice is not only a systematic violation against EU animal transport regulation 1/2005, but also against Article 13 of the Treaty of Lisbon, according to which the welfare requirements of animals as sentient beings are to be fully respected.”

Some of the shocking facts revealed:

  • Animals were left in overloaded, crowded trucks, in temperatures up to 41.5°C
  • Many animals were left on the trucks for days at a time
  • Animals were left on board for seven days without offloading in one case
  • 900,000 sheep, 850,000 cattle and 5,000 goats were exported from the EU to Turkey in the period from 2010 to 2015
  • 70% of transporters inspected over five years broke one or several EU regulations, with 247 out of 352 inspected transporters breaking the law
  • The worst offenders were trucks originating from Hungary (76 non-compliant trucks), Bulgaria (37 non-compliant trucks) and France (34 non-compliant trucks) with Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Estonia falling not far behind
  • The documented violations make up a shocking 1000-page dossier
  • The trade is set to grow this year which will result in the unacceptable suffering of even more animals if authorities do not take action to stop the trade
  • The live exports trade into Turkey - which is expected to increase in 2016 - exists to relieve the EU’s domestic farm-animal market from unwanted surplus, in order to keep prices stable

The coalition of animal welfare organisations state: “We call for a ban on long-distance animal transport from the EU to Turkey. Neither the EU Commission, the Member States, the Turkish authorities, nor the exporters and importers are willing to ensure that such transports are carried out in conformity with the law. It is a trade that is being conducted illegally and we do not believe authorities are capable of enforcing the regulations. As such the trade must be stopped.”

ENDS