After Animals Australia’s iconic 2011 investigation exposing the brutal treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesia, the Gillard government introduced a new system in an attempt to properly regulate the live export industry for the very first time.
The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) makes exporters legally accountable for the animals they sell right through the supply chain — from farm to slaughter in the importing country. Under ESCAS, before an exporter can obtain an export permit, they must be able to show that they have a secure ‘supply chain’ in place in importing countries that will see animals only going through facilities that have been audited to comply with OIE (World Organisation of Animal Health) guidelines. It’s important to remember that these are very base-level guidelines that, for example, still allow animals to be slaughtered without stunning.
Animals Australia has since exposed major breaches of ESCAS, in places including Jordan, Israel, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Oman, UAE, Mauritius and Kuwait. The fundamental flaw with ESCAS is that it still largely relies on industry self-regulation and, ultimately, regardless of what rules Australia puts in place, we still have no real control over what happens to our animals once they set foot in other countries.
In addition, ESCAS does not apply to ‘breeder’ animals and dairy cows who are exported but not for the purposes of slaughter, meaning that as soon as they step off a ship, exporters bear no legal responsibility for what happens to them in the importing country. Investigations have revealed dairy cows suffering extreme neglect and cruelty in importing countries.
Our eight-month investigation into the cruel transport and slaughter of European animals in the Middle East and Egypt helped inspire one million petition signatures and an EU Commission Inquiry into live export. From Belgium to Slovakia, the media response was unprecedented and ignited a wave of compassion for farmed animals across Europe.
One major media exposé in Germany sparked an incredible response, with major political parties and industry bodies calling for an end to live export. And after three years of investigations into the treatment of Romanian animals in Egypt and Lebanon, government officials have finally recognised live export as an issue of significant concern.
Our work in South America has so far seen the release of our evidence of live export cruelty in Uruguay and Brazil, where until now, very little was known about the suffering of animals exported from that continent. We’re building powerful alliances, with politicians, vets and colleague groups including Forum Animal, taking the first critical steps towards protecting South American animals from this brutal, global trade. And the signs so far in Brazil are very positive — a public inquiry will be held, legislation to ban live export is to be drafted, vets and vet students are being educated and beginning to speak out against the trade, and the meat processing union has publicly announced its opposition to live export.
Our work alongside the Princess Alia Foundation in Jordan has seen pre-slaughter stunning introduced in the major government abattoir, creating a significant precedent in the Middle East and sparing Australian and many other animals from the pain and suffering of fully conscious slaughter.
In both Kuwait and Jordan, years of relentless investigations and legal complaints to the Australian government, are finally paying off. In livestock markets where we have witnessed so much suffering — with terrified Aussie sheep tied up and abused — we are now regularly finding empty pens. The live export industry is being reined in because exporters know our investigators are on the ground, watching their every movement.
We’re proud to work alongside dynamic animal protection organisations and individuals around the globe, who share our vision of a world free from live export cruelty. These powerful alliances from Europe to South America maximize our reach and impact, ensuring animals have the strongest possible representation, wherever and whenever, they need it.
Discover more about our international work to end the cruelty of live export.