Council of States says no to a ban on imports of fur and hunting trophies: an incredibly sad day for TIR and animal welfare
Once again, the Council of States has rejected long overdue animal welfare reforms after a promising political process. Yet again, the small chamber demonstrated its indifference to protecting the weakest members of society, while consistently favoring economic goals. The Stiftung für das Tier im Recht (Foundation for the Animal in the Law; TIR) draws a bleak conclusion for the protection of animals.
May 30, 2022
Despite the urgency of the issue, a majority of the Council of States (22:17 with two abstentions) voted against the proposed ban, instead referring to measures taken by international committees to protect endangered species it believes are effective enough. The upper chamber of Parliament is once again deflecting responsibility and carelessly sacrificing the most fundamental ethical values enshrined in the Swiss Constitution. Both TIR and OceanCare – an internationally renowned organization that has been closely monitoring polar bears and their precarious existence and provides scientific advice to various expert groups – had provided the members of the Council of States with various materials in the run-up to the vote.
As for the second proposal to ban the import of fur products derived from animal cruelty (Mo. 19.4425 by Matthias Aebischer, SP/BE), , following a series of highly questionable arguments against the bill, the Council of States dismissed the issue, which TIR has been fighting to achieve for years (25:19 without abstentions). Especially the Council of States' reference to an improved declaration requirement is beyond comprehension. Several analyses by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO), which is tasked with monitoring the implementation of the declaration requirement, as well as investigations by animal welfare organizations have shown that since the adoption of the declaration requirement in 2013, there has been a lack of transparency with regard to the origin of furs. The FSVO findings report for the 2020/2021 inspection period states that of 141 inspected companies (including online providers), 79 percent were in violation. The FSVO writes on its Website: "The high violation rate shows that the fur declaration is still not being implemented correctly in many retail outlets and that there is still a considerable lack of knowledge in the industry." Despite these findings, the Council of States is sticking to the declaration requirement and wants to see in two years whether any improvements were made – a failed strategy in TIR's view.
The third animal welfare bill was the only one to be approved by the Council of States, after the Federal Council and the advisory committee had also expressed their support. It relates to a ban on tail docking of very young lambs without anesthesia (Mo. 21.3403 by Meret Schneider, GPS/ZH). Based on a scientifically refuted belief that animals are less sensitive to pain at the beginning of their lives, it was previously allowed to cut off the tail of lambs up to the age of seven days without the use of anesthetics. This blatant abuse has finally been banned. However, it cannot be regarded as a true victory for animals, given that a plethora of other painful routine procedures can still be conducted without the use of anesthesia (article 15 of the Animal Welfare Ordinance).
There is no doubt that the Council of States has once again bypassed the people regarding hunting trophies and fur. For example, a recent survey revealed that an overwhelming majority of 96 percent of more than 1,000 participants in the German-speaking and French-speaking parts of Switzerland are in favor of a ban on the import of hunting trophies. The National Council had also adopted with clear majorities both the import ban on fur products derived from animal cruelty (144:31) and the import and transit ban on hunting trophies taken from animals protected by CITES (121:60). Most votes against the proposed bans came from conservative members of the Council of States who are now responsible for a missed opportunity to adopt modern legislation and have failed to make a responsible decision for society.
The constant, mantra-like repetition of the – disputable – fact that Switzerland has the world's strictest animal welfare legislation is simply grotesque when urgently needed changes to the current legislation are systematically thwarted. In fact, animal welfare laws are constantly evolving around the world and many other countries have long since overtaken Swiss animal welfare laws in many respects - Switzerland, on the other hand, has remained stagnant with policymakers resting on achievements long past. TIR therefore draws a very sobering balance and considers today's parliamentary decisions a big step backwards
Further information (in German)
- Federal Assembly media releases
Jagdtrophäen / Pelz / Schwanzcoupieren
- Debatte zum Importverbot von Jagdtrophäen
Wortprotokoll / Abstimmungsprotokoll
- Debatte zum Importverbot tierquälerisch erzeugter Pelzprodukte
Wortprotokoll / Abstimmungsprotokoll
- Media relaease Zürcher Tierschutz: Qualpelze: Ständerat politisiert am Volk vorbei