Indonesia to investigate animal cruelty claims

Indonesia to investigate animal cruelty claims - Indonesia promised to investigate allegations of cruel and inhumane treatment of livestock in its abattoirs after Australia suspended live beef exports to 11 slaughterhouses.

But agriculture ministry livestock department chief Prabowo Respatiyo Caturroso conceded there were no regulations in Indonesian law that could be used to sanction abattoirs found to be abusing animals.

Indonesia to investigate animal cruelty claims
Cow before being slaughtered at abattior - This handout photo taken in March at the Pemerintah Kota Binjai slaughterhouse in Medan, Indonesia, and released by Animals Australia shows a cow before being slaughtered at an abattior. Australia has suspended live animal exports to 11 abattoirs in Indonesia after state television broadcast "shocking" images of cattle being mistreated in the slaughterhouses

"We'll send officials to all the abattoirs to investigate if there's animal mistreatment. We'll punish those proven to have committed animal cruelty," Caturroso told AFP on Wednesday.

But asked what sanctions the offending abattoirs could face, he paused and said: "Actually, none yet".

"We have a 2009 draft law covering animal welfare but it hasn't been implemented yet. And we're still formulating the sanctions. We'll speed up the process of implementation," he said.

Australia on Tuesday suspended live beef exports to Indonesian abattoirs featured in a report by state television which showed gruesome footage of cattle being mistreated and abused.

Australian Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig described the behaviour as "completely unacceptable".

"No one accepts the mistreatment of animals," Ludwig told a news conference amid a national uproar over the Aus$684.5 million (US$734 million) live cattle trade, 60 percent of which goes to Indonesia.

He also ordered an independent inquiry into the treatment of animals along the entire supply chain to Indonesia, a rapidly developing country of 240 million people to Australia's near north.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said it had evidence of cruelty including kicking, hitting, gouging of eyes and breaking of some animals' tails as workers attempted to force cattle into slaughter boxes.

Indonesian is the world's most populous Muslim-majority country and claims to adhere to strict Islamic rules governing the humane "halal" slaughtering of animals.

An official with the country's largest Islamic body, the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI), said the "haram" or forbidden slaughtering of animals had to stop.

"This is sinful if we continue to let it happen. The government and the MUI have a responsibility to immediately stop the practices which are against animal welfare," MUI food, drugs and cosmetics chief Lukman Hakim said.

French retail giant Carrefour, the biggest supermarket chain in Indonesia and a major purchaser of Australian beef, told AFP on Tuesday that Jakarta had to respond to Australia's concerns.

Carrefour spokesman Satria Hamid said the retailer was "very concerned" about the suspension of the live beef trade from Australia, which could see a spike in beef prices in local stores.

"Most of our imported meat comes from Australia. Although we also carry huge amounts of local meat, we hope that the government will settle this problem soon," he said. ( Agence France Presse. )

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