PRESS RELEASE: Sheep still for sale at cruel Kuwait livestock market

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PRESS RELEASE: By ANIMALS AUSTRALIA On FEB 11, 2013

Australian sheep are still being sold and brutally slaughtered at a notorious livestock market in Kuwait - in breach of live export regulations - despite Animals Australia notifying the Federal Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) five months ago.

Last August Animals Australia first reported serious breaches of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) occurring at the Al Rai market in Kuwait - the scene of some of the worst cruelty inflicted on Australian sheep over the past decade. A second formal complaint was lodged with the Department last week.

"We were shocked to see that the number of merchants selling Australian sheep at this cruel market has only increased. The exporter continues to blatantly disregard their legal obligation to ensure sheep are kept within approved supply chains," said Animals Australia Campaign Director Lyn White.

At least 11 separate merchants were found to be selling Australian sheep at Al Rai last month. Many were being kept in outdoor pens with no access to shade, food or water. Other larger groups were confined indoors, in complete darkness, to restrict the ability to photograph them. Many of the merchants at the market offered slaughter onsite as an ‘after sales’ service.

"The only notable change since the previous complaint in 2012 is that Australian sheep are now having their ear tags ripped out in what we can only assume is a deliberate attempt to rort the system. What merchants have failed to take into account is that Australian merinos are unique and easily distinguishable from other sheep in the region."

Animals Australia has conducted a number of investigations at the notoriously cruel Al Rai livestock market in Kuwait city, each time documenting the brutal handling, transport and slaughter of Australian sheep.

"If there was one market that exporters should have been monitoring in the Middle East, it is Al Rai. The fact they have failed to do so, even after breaches were identified, shows how little they care and how prepared they are to flout the rules.

"This ongoing situation demands the strongest possible sanctions from DAFF. It is time to let exporters know that if protecting animals from cruelty is not enough to motivate compliance, then failing to do so will lead to severe repercussions.

"Preventing Australian sheep from being sold in such circumstances was a cornerstone of why ESCAS was implemented. If exporters are not prepared to comply with the new regulations, they should have their export licence removed."

Animals Australia says it is unacceptable that investigations into ESCAS breaches are taking so long.

"During the five months since we first alerted DAFF to breaches in Kuwait, thousands of Australian sheep have continued to be sold and slaughtered in breach of regulations. If AQIS needs additional resources to allow them to investigate expediently - then they should be urgently provided with them."

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