Friday, December 10, 2010

CIRCUS UPDATE ? Minister says NO to circus abuse

Arabic newspaper article about Ministers decision to stop the use of animals in the circus can be downloaded here

Please note that the text below is the translation of the arabic article in the link above

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Hussein Hajj Hassan, made a decision to deport all the circus animals.  Monte Carlo circus came to Lebanon from Egypt, and the animals are used in acrobatics performances since late last month, near the compound of Michel Murr Stadium.

The Minister's decision, which is expected to be formally release this morning, will include a referral to the public prosecutor for investigation.  The referral includes a summary of the numerous reports received by Animals Lebanon, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) based in Geneva, and is based on investigations conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Reports indicate that there has been a manipulation of information and the hiding of real documents in regards to the five lions, three tigers and one lion cub.  There are additional violations of administrative veterinary and quarantine procedures in the process of entry into Lebanon, as well as the way the shipment moved from Egypt overland across the border with Jordan and Syria.

The resolution is a precedent in the history of the Ministry of Agriculture when dealing with such issues.  The Ministry has never taken such a decision, although many endangered animals are smuggled into and out of Lebanon.

It is well known that Lebanon is not a party to CITES, and national laws that allow the Lebanese authorities to respond to situations can be a violation of this Agreement, but this decision could be the basis to build upon, while Lebanon's accession to the Convention.  Animals Lebanon has asked Minister Hajj Hassan to make a decision to confiscate the animals as a first step to sending them to a sanctuary.  As Lebanon is has not signed CITES Hajj Hassan was unable to make such a decision, and instead issued a decision to deport the animals back to Egypt.

Al Akhbar also received news that CITES Enforcement Officer John Sellar had addressed the Lebanese authorities to investigate the information received to Geneva for non-compliance by those responsible for these animal.  Sellar requested authorities to take appropriate action when violations happen.

President of Animals Lebanon, Lana El-Khalil, welcomed the decision of Al-Hajj Hassan and is pleased to work with the Ministry to have Lebanon sign the CITES Convention.  The next CITES conference will be held next March in Qatar, and is an occasion for Lebanon to request accession to the Convention, leading to the ratification of the House of Representatives, in conjunction with a series of national legislation dealing with the sensitive issue of endangered wild animals and to ensure that the illicit trafficking is stopped.

El-Khalil announced that Animals Lebanon is in the process of cooperating with the Ministry of Agriculture by providing a draft national law for animal welfare and to ensure that illegal traders are brought to trial.

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