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Middle East: Further OIE welfare guideline breaches

News Section Icon Published 19/11/2007

Australia is the world's largest exporter of commercial livestock. Most animals are sent to Middle East countries which should abide by international guidelines for animal welfare; however, video evidence shows serious breaches of transport and slaughter guidelines.

The Australian export market

The majority of animals exported are sheep (4 million in 2006) but also many cattle. Most of these animals are sent to Middle Eastern countries where there are limited animal welfare laws that are largely ineffective. Many countries in the Middle East are members of the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) and should therefore abide by the OIE guidelines relating to transport and slaughter.

History of cruelty

In 2003, Compassion in World Farming carried out an investigation in Kuwait with partner organisation, Animals Australia. Findings resulted in cruelty charges being brought against an Australian live exporter by Animals Australia. Since then successive visits to the Middle East and North Africa by Animals Australia have revealed ongoing extreme cruelty to Australian export animals, those imported from other countries and local animals.

Revelations of brutal cruelty to cattle at Cairo's Bassatin slaughterhouse early in 2006 caused the Australian Government to immediately suspend the export of animals to Egypt until October 2006, when Australia and Egypt signed an agreement that Australia expected would end the possibility of a recurrence of the brutal treatment. However, a visit to Egypt in December 2006 by Animals Australia found such terrible treatment and slaughter of Australian sheep that no further animals have been exported to that country since then.

Current investigations

In the UAE and Kuwait pitifully heat-stressed Australian sheep suffer in temperatures around 45C. A bull imported from Uruguay is subjected to gratuitous brutal abuse in Jordan. Local animals destined for slaughter are subjected to similar levels of cruelty.

Warning: this film features potentially upsetting scenes of animal cruelty

Middle East cruelty

The accompanying footage was obtained by Animals Australia in September 2007.

The investigations were carried out in:

  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Jordan

This edit was compiled by Compassion in World Farming.

Time for change

Together with Animals Australia and other Australian-based and international animal welfare organisations, Compassion in World Farming repeats its call for a ban on the export of Australian animals to the ME. With a Federal Election to take place in Australia on 24 November, party policies are being reviewed. Already the Opposition Labor Party has indicated it would consider stopping the export of animals to countries unable or unwilling to improve standards of export animal welfare to the expectation of the Australian public, an approach that we very much welcome.


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