Police to investigate reports of serious animal cruelty at Finnish farms
Video footage on TV programme sparks outcry
Police are to investigate claims of serious animal welfare violations at farms raising pigs and poultry in the south of Finland. An animal rights group has released photographs and videos it had taken at 101 farms indicating widespread mistreatment of animals.
The material collected by the activists is very persuasive. Pig pens and chicken cages are dirty, and many of the animals appear to be tired and sick. Injured and even dead animals can be seen in some of the videos.
The footage was reportedly taken over a period of one year at Finnish pig and chicken farms. Some of the videos were televised on Wednesday evening on a current affairs programme of the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE.
Robin Lardot, the Chief Inspector of Police at the Ministry of the Interior says that the Supreme Police Command has asked for an assessment as to whether or not a preliminary investigation is warranted.
He compares the case to an uproar over dog fighting in Britain in September, where the BBC revealed that the illegal dog fighting business had reached Finland.
"That case was investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)", he said.
Minister of Justice Tuija Brax (Green) says that the ministry will examine whether or not an aggravated level of animal protection violations should be added to the law, allowing for more severe punishments.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sirkka-Liisa Anttila (Centre) says that the Finnish food Safety Authority (EVIRA) will ask for more information about the farms depicted in the videos.
Akuliina Saarikoski, information officer of the Oikeutta Eläimille ("Justice for Animals") organisation says that the organisation can give precise information on where each of the videos was taken. However, she will not disclose who shot the footage.
"The camera operators have said that none of the farms had been broken into. They entered buildings whose doors were open.
In her view, the video cavalcade gives a comprehensive and representative image of factory farming in Finland. There are pictures from 20 chicken farms, which represent a quarter of chicken production in Finland.
All of the farms had some shortcomings.
Vuokko Puurla, a veterinarian of the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) feels that the claims made by the organisation are exaggerated. She feels that EU inspections have indicated that Finnish farm animals live in mainly good conditions.
She questioned the motives of the organisation in question, saying that its aim is to end animal production in Finland completely. However, she conceded that the conditions shown in the videos were truly shocking.
"The reality of Finnish factory farming revealed!"