Live export crisis at sea: new accountability report investigates roles and responsibilities, Spanish authorities found to be at the source of the crisis at sea
For immediate release Brussels: 1 June, 2021
The story of the two vessels which left Spain back in December 2020, Karim Allah and Elbeik, made headlines around the world but no timely action was taken to save the animals onboard. Both livestock cargos were rejected in Libya and Turkey due to bluetongue disease suspects and spent three months navigating around the Med in search of a port, and a buyer, which would accept them.
They were then ordered to come back to Spain where all the 2,600 bovines were killed for health and welfare reasons, in line with the Spanish Inspectors’ recommendations. The method used to process the animals was not disclosed.
Eurogroup for Animals (EfA) and its member Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) followed closely the case and, right after the saga ended, commissioned the law firm Joaquín Ortega Abogados, S.L. an in depth analysis to identify the roles and responsibilities of the actors involved in the transport operations.
The lawyers Accountability Report: the Karim Allah and Elbeik’s crises. Animal welfare during sea transport, accompanied by EfA’s summary were presented today to MEP Tilly Metz, Chair of the Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT), and to Janusz Wojciechowski, EU Commissioner for Agriculture.
During the meetings, representatives from AWF, EfA and the law firm presented the evidence collected in the legal analysis, which indicates that the welfare of the animals on board of these livestock vessels was seriously compromised.
The report identifies several breaches. Among others, the following:
- The Spanish Authorities issued certificates for export not in compliance with the different pieces of law, agreements and guidelines applicable to these cases, and didn’t provide additional information specifying that the animals originated from two bluetongue-free areas, actually starting the whole crisis.
- The Turkish and Libyan authorities failed to meet the requirements laid down by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), establishing that in the event of a refusal of a livestock vessel, the welfare of animals should be the first consideration.
- The exporters didn’t request the vessels’ masters to immediately return to Spain after the Libyan refusal, hence, they were responsible for the delays in ending the animals' suffering.
- Sea transporters lack of feasible contingency plans.
- The carriers failed to meet OIE requirements since the animals were transported in critical conditions.
We hope that this analysis will give the EC and the ANIT Committee the evidence needed to hold all parties involved accountable. However, it should also help put a final end to live animal transport because this horrible saga was only the umpteenth example of what regularly happens to animals. The EU recognised in its 1997 treaty that animals are sentient beings, hence they should not be transported in a way that would cause them suffering. The solution is there: a meat and carcasses only trade.
Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals
The Accountability Report was also shared with the veterinarian attaches, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides, and the MEPs members of the ANIT Committee.
We call on the EU Commission and the European Parliament’s ANIT Committee which is currently investigating this type of animal transport, to investigate and hold the parties involved accountable for violating existing animal transport regulations. AWF demands a definitive ban on the export of live animals to third countries both by land and by sea.
Iris Baumgaertner, Vice-Chair, Animal Welfare Foundation
Due to the several breaches identified by the legal analysis, the law firm outlines possible legal actions concerning different actors involved.
Agnese Marcon, Interim Communications Manager, Eurogroup for Animals
+32 (0) 456 078 038
Eurogroup for Animals represents 74 animal protection organisations in 26 EU Member States, Switzerland, Serbia, Norway, Australia and the US. Since its foundation in 1980, the organisation has succeeded in encouraging the EU to adopt higher legal standards for animal protection. Eurogroup for Animals reflects public opinion through its members and has both the scientific and technical expertise to provide authoritative advice on issues relating to animal protection.
The Animal Welfare Foundation e.V. (AWF) is an independent, non-profit, and internationally active animal welfare organisation. With their own investigation teams and animal welfare projects, the organisation is committed to improving the lives of so-called “farm” animals.