Letter: No justification for sheep slaughter

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Sir: Paul Field's excellent article (29 April) on the disgusting treatment of sheep in the French ritual slaughter last weekend revealed horrors that should have no place in a civilised society. In June 1995, I wrote to the Minister of Agriculture about last year's almost identical slaughter. The reply I received from the Ministry of Agriculture was predictably complacent:

The French authorities have told us that special arrangements were made for field slaughter, under veterinary supervision, to meet the demands of the Muslim community. The French authorities work closely with Muslim organisations and welfare organisations throughout the year to improve standards of slaughtering and to control this activity. ... Provided that proper welfare standards are in place, there is no reason why animals should not be transported to France ... The Minister does not think that there has been any suggestion that the sheep's welfare has been adversely affected during their journey to France.

It is hard to relate the scenes in the "killing fields" to "proper welfare standards", just as it is difficult to imagine worse "standards of slaughtering" than those described in your article.

When we see evidence of such blatant and cruel defiance of EU animal welfare legislation, what confidence can any thinking person have in the sham welfare regulations in the EU or the claims of this government to take animal welfare issues seriously?

Live exports should be banned, and strenuous and committed efforts be made to ensure that all sentient beings are treated with the humanity they deserve.

Dr Amanda Vance

West Chiltington,

West Sussex

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