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Indonesia sends mixed messages over abattoir abuse

News Section Icon Published 28/06/2011

The Indonesian Embassy in London has assured Compassion of the country's commitment to animal welfare, but reports suggest the country's authorities are pressuring the Australians to lift the temporary ban on cattle exports to Indonesia immediately or face a permanent ban.

Disturbing footage of the mistreatment of cattle, filmed by Animals Australia, was aired on Australian television on 30th May.  

As a reaction to the public outcry across the world, including from Compassion and its supporters, the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, suspended live cattle transport to Indonesia.

The country's Embassy in London has now written to Compassion in World Farming to say the country "supports animal welfare" after the shocking mistreatment of Australian cattle in 11 abattoirs was revealed at the end of last month.

However, reports in the Indonesian and Australian press today suggest otherwise.  The Australian newspaper reports Indonesian authorities are pushing for a resumption of live cattle exports to the country by the second week of July.  

They quote the head of an Indonesian legislative committee, Mr Muh Romahurmuziy, saying if the demand was not met: "We will push for a permanent ban which will strengthen our position, because this is a loss for the Australian government."  

Compassion had called on the Indonesian authorities to say what steps they would be taking to ensure proper training of slaughter personnel, adoption of more humane practices and penalties for those contravening those practices.

In his reply to Compassion's concerns, Herry Sudradjat, Minister Counsellor of the Indonesian Embassy in London, said: "Indonesians ourselves are appalled by the findings of the Four Corners programme of ABC Australia.  It was clearly unacceptable and violated any standards of decent treatment of animals."

He goes on to say that the treatment of animals in the 11 featured abattoirs was "in no way representative" of the conditions in most of Indonesia's 160 slaughterhouses, adding "the bad ones must be found and their practices terminated".

Mr Sudradjat says Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered investigations and prosecutions relating to the footage and that "our Government is working hard to make sure that the bad treatment of animals is stopped and never again allowed to happen".

Mr Sudradjat adds: "We are cooperating closely with the Australian Government and have established a joint verification team which will conduct inspections of abattoirs and determine steps that need to be taken to rectify the situation."

This does not tally with reports in the news and Compassion is pushing for clarification from the Indonesian government.

Compassion's Director of Public Affairs, Joyce D'Silva, says: "We welcome the Indonesian government's response to us, which shows they are taking the worldwide reaction to the shocking abuse of cattle in their abattoirs seriously.  But we are concerned about reports that Mr Sudradjat's colleagues now seem to be pushing for a quick resumption of the import of live cattle from Australia.

"Are they committed to improving animal welfare or are they just paying lip service to it so they can start importing cattle from Australia again as soon as possible?

"We believe long distance transport of animals should be ended.  It is vital that Indonesia improves its abattoirs - but not just so that they can resume imports of Australian cattle.  Long distance transport is a major cause of animal suffering and Compassion will continue to campaign to stop it."     


Watch the documentary

  • Go to to watch the ABC documentary. Please note that some of this footage may upset viewers due to its graphic nature.

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