The Malta Independent 20 June 2021, Sunday

FKNK threatens protests unless Commissioners who came out against children hunting are fired

Thursday, 6 May 2021, 10:34 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Federation for Hunting and Conservation – Malta (FKNK) has called upon the government to “immediately remove Pauline Miceli and Alison Bezzina from their posts of Children’s Commissioner and Commissioner for Animal Welfare respectively.”

The FKNK said it hopes that Government will heed its call for the removal of the Commissioners from their Office, “failing which the FKNK will take all legal actions at its disposal, including the taking to the streets in protest.”

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The Office of the Commissioner of Children recently called on the authorities to take action over a case where a child was filmed using a shotgun in the company of an adult. This, after footage of the incident was published by Birdlife Malta, which said that the man seen in the video is the brother of the FKNK’s secretary general. The incident was recorded at Mizieb and the police were called in. The office said that, also of grave concern is the fact that the minor is seen to be in very close range of a misfiring gun that could have seriously injured him. “This near miss highlights a lacuna in our laws that do not prohibit children accompanying adults in hunting expeditions.” It called on Parliament to pass the necessary amendments to the Arms Act to close this dangerous gap in our legislation.

The Commissioner for Animal Welface Alison Bezzina has said that Children exposed to hunting become desensitised to animal cruelty. “Even if they are not allowed to handle a weapon, desensitization happens when children are taught that shooting a bird and causing it to fall to the ground in agony is cause to celebrate,” she reportedly said.

The FKNK has now hit back at the two Commissioners, calling for their removal.

“Both Miceli and Bezzina have expressed their personal emotional beliefs when making comments as Commissioners in support of BirdLife Malta’s latest anti-hunting campaign to ban children and youths from accompanying hunters while hunting. Miceli has said that when children are exposed to the use of firearms, this constitutes ‘Child Abuse’, while Bezzina said that “Children exposed to hunting become desensitised to animal cruelty”.  The latter does not even seem aware that the Animal Welfare Act by which she is bound, expressly excludes hunting!  Thus, the FKNK believes that by such and similar emotional personal belief official statements, both Commissioners have overstepped and abused their official positions.”

 “The FKNK moreover wonders if youths should therefore not be exposed to the use of firearms during sports shooting in disciplines that take place even during the Olympics. The FKNK further asks shouldn’t children, and probably also some adults, be knowledgeable to the reality that the meat they eat, at home and during several festivities and celebrations, entails the death of an animal, and that this does not just happen on supermarkets’ shelves or freezers’ chests! – The essential nutrient proteins from the game meat in season and venison at table that only hunters can ‘afford’; the rabbits at the traditional Imnarja feast; the lamb in Easter; pig roast and horse meat eaten during several local village feasts; and the turkey at Christmas.  What next!  Will the children who are exposed to the use of fishing rods and harpoons while fishing be labelled as being abused and desensitised by the Commissioners?”

“Finally, the FKNK will write about this unethical Commissioners’ behaviour to their responsible  Government Ministers, the Honourable Michael Falzon and the Honourable Anton Refalo.”

In reply, ADPD - The Green Party's Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said:

"I have seen the call of the Hunters’ federation requesting the removal from office of the Commissioner for Children and the Commissioner for Animal Welfare.

Once more we have to witness the irresponsible behaviour of FKNK, a matter we have grown accustomed to over the years.

The statement made by the Commissioner for Children and the Commissioner for Animal Welfare that children should be kept away from hunting activities and the associated arms is appropriate and should be implemented immediately.

At ADPD we have full confidence in the Commissioner for Children and the Commissioner for Animal Welfare. We ought to thank them continuously for their endeavours on behalf of the whole community. Their actions throughout the years have been continuously ethical."  

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