Australia suspends livestock exports to Egypt after exposé of cruelty

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2006:

CANBERRA–Australian agriculture minister
Peter McGuarin on February 26, 2006 suspended
livestock exports to Egypt, after the Australian
edition of 60 Minutes aired video taken in
January 2006 by Lyn White of Animals Australia
that showed workers at the Bassetin
slaughterhouse near Cairo poking out the eyes of
cattle and cutting their leg tendons before
subjecting them to a version of hallal slaughter
that clearly flunked the goal of the animals not
“Required is that the animal must be
unconscious at the time of slaughter, there
should be no cruelty to it, and that any stress
to the animal should be minimised,” said
Australian Federation of Islamic Councils hallal
certification representative Munir Hussain.
“Over 1 million Australian cattle have
been exported into Egypt over the past 10 years.
The vast majority have been slaughtered at
Bassatin abattoir,” said Animals Australia
executive director Glenys Oogjes.

In July 2005 McGuarin wrote to Animals
Australia that, “The Australian government and
the Australian livestock exporting industry have
provided funding and technical assistance in
recent years to upgrade facilities and procedures
at Bassatin to achieve better welfare outcomes
for all livestock processed thereŠBassatin is a
good example of where Australia’s involvement in
the live trade has allowed us to influence change
and improve animal welfare conditions in the
Middle East.”
Responded White, a former 20-year police
officer and inspector for RSPCA Australia, “I
saw humanity at its worst sometimes in the police
force in South Australia, but nothing came close
to what I saw at Bassatin,” which was only one
of many Middle Eastern live export destinations
she inspected.
“In Bahrain, White filmed Australian
sheep dying in the feedlots,” summarized Richard
Yallop of The Australian. “In Kuwait, animals
were dragged into the municipal abattoir by their
back legs for slaughter and one sheep was
slaughtered in the second-floor toilet of a
communal boarding house. In Qatar, sheep were
trussed up and slung in car boots before being
slaughtered at home, and in Oman sheep were
trussed up by three legs and left to bleed to
death over a drain after their throats were cut.”
Livecorp chief executive Cameron Hall,
representing the livestock export industry, told
the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that,
“In the abattoir in Egypt, we have established a
set of standards and practices where Australian
cattle are treated differently than local or
Ethiopian cattle that were seen on the footage.”
“Slashing tendons is illegal in Egypt,”
said Western Australia Farmers Federation
president Trevor DeLandgrafft. “Obviously this
is managing to get past the laws of the land,
and I think it’s imperative that the government
and industry ensure that this practice does not
continue to occur to Australian cattle, or any
Arguing that the two-to-three-week voyage
from Australia to the Middle East is cruel in
itself, animal advocates rallied against any
resumption of live exports on March 25 in cities
including Hobart, Sydney, and Victoria.
Amid the debate Down Under, the European
Commission is expected to lift a ban on British
live cattle exports in April 2006, 10 years
after imposing it to try to stop the spread of
mad cow disease to the European mainland.
About 75% of the British public opposes
live exports, according to a poll commissioned
by Compassion In World Farming. Years of protest
against live exports intensified after
demonstrator Jill Phipps, 31, was crushed by a
livestock truck in February 1995.
Mad cow disease still occurs in Britain,
but the number of cases has fallen from 1,443 in
2000 to 151 in 2005, and since 2003 has been
falling by about half each year.
Mainland cases have now been detected
from Sweden in the north to Portugal in the
south, and as far east as Austria and
Greece–but the disease has skipped over the
former Iron Curtain nations, with only one of
the 183,000-odd known cases having been found in
a formerly Communist nation.
No obvious difference in farm practices
seems to explain this phenomenon, which may hint
that the cause of mad cow disease occurred and
spread before there was the present livestock
commerce between the formerly Communist nations
and the rest of Europe. The fall of Communism
opened up the east/west cattle traffic in 1990,
but the European Union paid little attention to
stopping the spread of mad cow disease until 1996.

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