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Citizens worldwide demand action to stop animal transport cruelty

News Section Icon Published 6/14/2023

Call comes as never-before-seen undercover footage reveals the horrors of live exports from European ports

Today (14 June) citizens across the world will unite in calling for urgent action to strengthen animal transit laws and ban the cruel export of millions of live animals.

The call comes on the 8th annual Ban Live Exports: International Awareness Day alongside the release of shocking never-before-seen footage which exposes the horrific conditions live animals being exported from Europe are forced to endure. It shows animals being dragged and kicked, and forced into packed, filthy, and overheated trucks and boats. The animals can be heard crying in distress and terror during the relentless journey.

To mark the Day, animal campaigners and supporters of a ban in the EU will be sending digital postcards to the 14 EU agriculture ministers who plan to block stronger legislation that will protect animals during transport which show harrowing images of live exports and urging them to back the proposed changes.

And in the UK, Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch will be calling on the Government to reconsider its recent decision to abandon promised legislation that would have banned live exports for slaughter or fattening from or through Great Britain. She provides the voiceover in a new video showing the cruelty of the trade and the history of the 50-year-long campaign to end it.

The actress and Compassion in World Farming Patron said: “We must end this horrific trade once and for all. Full stop. The UK Government has promised to ban live exports, but in a betrayal of trust, they’ve dropped their own Bill that was set to do just that. It’s been a long fight, but we can’t give up now. Together, we can Ban Live Exports.

Every year, millions of animals around the world are transported over thousands of kilometres - by air, sea or land - to be slaughtered or fattened for slaughter. During these journeys, they suffer tremendously due to stress, exhaustion, over-heating and injuries. Many of these animals are sheep and calves kept in over-crowded conditions without enough food, water, or space to move. They often face an inhumane death at their final destination in countries where there are no slaughter laws to protect them.

In January, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania and Spain publicly opposed progressive measures aimed at “prohibiting or limiting certain types of transport” of live animals. And they’ve since been joined by Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Italy and Poland. However, Germany and Luxembourg have already prohibited live exports to non-EU countries and together with the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Denmark, are backing an EU ban on this cruel and unnecessary practice.

Internationally, other countries have taken steps to address the issue, New Zealand has already introduced a ban on live exports by sea, which came into effect in April, and the Australian Government recently committed to phasing out live sheep exports. Brazil’s federal court also ruled in April that no live animals should be exported from the country’s ports, recognising that animals are sentient beings and that their welfare during long sea journeys is very poor.

In January 2022, Compassion submitted a joint petition with more than 900,000 signatures to MEP Tilly Metz, who chairs the EU Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals During Transit (ANIT), along with Four Paws, WeMove and Animals International. The petition called for a ban on live exports and improved animal protection during transit.

In May, the NGO also handed in a giant postcard to a representative of the Swedish Presidency of the EU depicting the suffering caused by live exports, and a message from EU citizens calling for the cruelty to end.

A recent report released by the EU’s own European Court of Auditors recently concluded that transport is always a source of stress for animals, and that money is driving the trade. It also found that operators frequently choose to have animals slaughtered in countries where it costs the least and rules are most relaxed, even if they are much further away.

Debbie Tripley, Compassion in World Farming’s Global Director of Campaigns and Advocacy, said: “When we know that animals like cows, sheep, and pigs are sentient beings that feel pain and fear, allowing them to be transported hundreds or thousands of miles, often for cheap slaughter in horrific conditions, is beyond inhumane, and it must end.

As part of its review of animal welfare legislation, the European Commission is proposing strong improvements to existing transport rules as well as a ban on live exports. The vast majority of European citizens – 94 per cent* – support a ban on live exports to non-EU countries, so we must ensure they are not betrayed by EU agriculture ministers in favour of the powerful agriculture lobby.

We’re thrilled to have the support of EU and UK citizens pushing for an end to this inhumane practice and we urge decision makers to listen to the will of the people by helping to ensure we end live exports once and for all.


For more information please email or call +44 (0)1483 521 615.

Download Images/video of animals during live export.

Notes to Editors

1. The date of 14 June was chosen to mark the live export tragedy that occurred on the same day in 2015 when 13,000 sheep tragically lost their lives during a long sea journey from Romania to Somalia. Along the way thousands of sheep died from dehydration, starvation and exhaustion.

2. Compassion in World Farming was founded in 1967 by a British dairy farmer who became horrified at the development of intensive factory farming. Today Compassion is the leading farm animal welfare organisation dedicated to ending factory farming and achieving humane and sustainable food. With headquarters in the UK, we have offices across Europe, in the US, China and South Africa.

3. *This statistic is from the European Commission’s 2022 consultation report conducted in support of the fitness check and revision of the EU animal welfare legislation. You can also refer to the factual summary report.


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