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by Nick Mays, Chief Reporter, OUR DOGS Newspaper, UK

THE GERMAN Federal Government was found guilty of breed discrimination and extermination of dogs in Germany in a show trial conducted at the International Court of Justice for Animal Rights in Geneva last week.

Held at the Centre International de Conferences in Geneva, the 'trial' was conducted by the European animal welfare organisation, the Franz Weber Foundation on a suit filed by the Deutsche Tierschutzpartei - the German Animal Protection Party - which is an active, recognised political party in Germany, together with a number of other plaintiffs, mainly registered campaigning organisations.

Delegates from European Animal Defence organisations, experts, jurists and witnesses from Germany and other parts of Europe attended the trial, together with a number of journalists and private individuals. The 'court' was composed of an international jury of nine jurors, all campaigners and dog experts from Germany, France, Belgium, Greece, Austria and Switzerland together with two judges; Franz Weber himself (Switzerland) and Dr. Norbert Ch. Schauer, (Austria).

The Federal Government and the various States Governments (Lander) stood accused of enacting unconstitutional and cruel laws against dogs and their owners, despite many of these laws being clearly against accepted EU laws and human rights legislation.

The prosecution's case was outlined by campaigner Hans-Jurgen Gerlach, Chairman of the Hessen branch of the Tierschutz-Party and Member of the Federal Board of the Party; "For many years German politicians have chose to ignore the burning question of dogs misused as fighting weapons, even though animals protectionists have continuously drawn attention to the situation. Today however, these same politicians are active in interfering with the rights of dogs and their owners as well as committing serious offences against the animal protection law.

"The results are mass-killings of completely innocent dogs and the traumatic ordeals suffered by the resulting social out-casting of blameless dog owners. These acts of destruction are not only totally senseless but also feed and support a dangerous tendency within the population towards mass hysteria leading to an inflammatory lynch-justice against people and animals."

Over the course of the next few hours, the court heard evidence from numerous 'witnesses', all of who brought their different experiences of the breed specific legislation to the audience's attention. Proceedings, which were conducted mainly in German, were simultaneously translated into French and English.

HANNELORE JANSEN of the Gesselschaft fur Hausstierforschung e.V added to the accusation by pointing out the facts about canine Bull breeds as given in a book written by the late Dr Dieter Fleig. Fleig's book had been extensively misquoted by politicians who sought justification for their description of various breeds as 'fighting dogs'.

"The true facts of Dr Felig's book have been carefully compiled by campaigners," said Jansen. "Journalists who conducted the 'fighting dog' campaign in the German media did not exercise proper care and attention to the facts, and caused fear amongst the general population... Foreign breeds were cited as dangerous, but the real problems were not addressed." Jansen added that the vies of dog owners and genuine experts were ignored by politicians, with the end result that dog owners were deprived of their constitutional rights by the Federal Government. The recent ban on four bull breeds was illegal and against EU law, but had been enacted anyway.

SILKE GROOS, a long-time anti-BSL campaigner outlined in graphic detail the various States Governments' plans to destroy large numbers of dogs, but added that both Hamburg and North-Rhein Westphalia were prevented from doing so by international pressure. She added that in North-Rhein Westphalia there are over 4,500 dogs of 'discriminated breeds' in council-run dog shelters, awaiting possible execution.

GUDRUN KOPP of the FDP-Bundestagasabgeordnete (Free Democratic Party) raised expectations by telling the audience that she had "some things to tell you". First, she asked the question as to how such a law could be enacted, and explained how, in December 2000, all the Government ministries involved in the proposed laws were consulted and gave their input.

"There was no discussion on the rights of dog owners, no hearing of evidence from dog experts," said Kopp. "I found that even amongst my party colleagues there is a fear of dogs and a lack of understanding... It is difficult to fight popularism and hysteria, we must do the RIGHT thing, and scientific expert opinion is needed."

Kopp added that the FDP did not approve these laws and would fight them. "This will entail a law suit at EU level and my colleagues and lawyers will check the legal implications," said Kopp. "We will contact the EU Commissioner David Byrne about the Federal Government's law banning four breeds from even entering Germany. We hope that the EU will enact sanctions (against the Government) for the violation of EU laws and the treaty of free passage throughout Europe... Dog owners' constitutional rights have been violated, but we hope to reverse this. We also hope to secure legislation on animal protection as part of Constitutional law."

WERNER KLINGER of the opposition Liberal Party, which is rapidly gaining popularity against the governing SDP/Green coalition Government - also a long-time campaigner and owner of a Dogue de Bordeaux named Cherie - drew applause when he outlined the Federal Government's media campaign of fear about so-called 'fighting dogs', which led to many dog owners being attacked verbally and physically, saying: "Fear is always a bad counsel."

Following on, Klinger outlined the outrageous comments made on TV by Otto Schily, Federal Minister of the Interior and Vice-Chancellor, who denounced all such dogs as dangerous and their owners as criminals. "If a Minister of State confirms what the gutter press writes, then citizens think that this must be correct. he should resign. This man went on the streets in demonstrations in 1968 to protest against the erosion of civil rights, but he has now eroded civil rights. After 60 years, we have a two-tier legal system even criminals have the right of privacy in their own homes, but dog owners do not."

One of the most applauded witnesses was Frau VERA MOC-ROSU, the German pensioner who was arrested by German police officers in February after her dog allegedly 'attacked' a Dachshund whilst she was taking it for a walk. Frau Moc-Rosu outlined in graphic detail how the police demanded to break into her flat, but only reluctantly allowed her to unlock the front door, before they pushed her aside to get at her dog. Given her diminutive stature, the over-use of force against Frau Moc-Rosu had many of the audience shaking their heads in disbelief.

"I later found they had broken a chair, I can only think they had used it to test whether my dog was aggressive," said Frau Moc-Rosu, her voice cracking with emotion. "I have suffered psychological damage because of this. I fear that the police will turn up at any time. I now get up at 5.30 am to walk my dog before people are about. It took me three months to get my dog back from the police. I am afraid of further persecution."

Two videos were also shown, one taken secretly of hundreds of dogs held in a high-security holding centre in Hamburg harbour, the other TV news footage of American Stafford-cross 'Apollo' who was cruelly gunned down by police in a Dortmund park in February. Many of the audience - men and women - were openly crying at the grim scenes, actions all sanctioned by Government law.

After several hours of evidence, the jury returned to deliver their verdict. The outcome was never in any doubt; all the accused were found guilty of racial discrimination against dogs and their owners, violation of dog owners' constitutional rights and of wanting to export these laws to other states. Franz Weber, exuding natural dignity and statesmanship, read the verdict, copies of which were circulated in French, German and English and which would be circulated throughout the world. A range of demands to make amends for these abuses was also added, including the suspension of all breed lists and the repeal of the Federal law banning four Bull breeds.

The judgement reads:
The International Court of Justice for Animal Rights held 7th May 2001 in the case of Breed Discrimination and the Extermination of Dogs in Germany

Based on Article 2 and on the statutes of the International Court of Justice for Animal Rights,

Based on the accusation documentation and on the validity of the charge,

In consideration of the summons delivered to the accused by registered letter and the hearing of the arguments of both parties, The International Court of Justice for Animal Rights pronounces the following judgement:


The accused: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, Vice-Chancellor Joseph Fischer, German President Johannes Rau, Parliamentary President Wolfgang Thierse, Home Secretary Otto Schily, the Minister of Justice Herta Däubler-Gmelin, Government Secretary Renate Künast and a further 35 responsible German decision-makers are found to be guilty in the eyes of the Court as follows;

- guilty of not fighting canine breed discrimination and the social discrimination of dog owners but rather furthering them

- guilty of omitting to introduce laws against the misuse of dogs as fighting weapons - in spite of repeated warnings from animal protection groups. Due to their neglect and failure as legislators the accused are mainly responsible for the tragic accidents which have occurred with dogs perverted by criminal individuals who use cruel methods to train dogs to act in abnormal ways.

- guilty of not only ignoring the status of dogs as individual beings and as social partners of countless humans, but also of subjecting thousands of dogs to officially ordered persecution, physical and mental suffering and extermination.

- guilty of deliberately and systematically causing a part of the population of Germany to suffer from the results of wilfully introduced laws and official opinion-making leading to mass-hysteria, denouncement, social rejection, and mental grief.

- guilty of adversely affecting a large number of Germany's citizens by having massively increased the dog licence tax.

- the government authorities have been found guilty by the Court of introducing dog and dog-ownership laws and regulations which act against the fundamental constitutional rights of all of Germany's citizens.

- they are guilty of introducing an unconstitutional law which is injurious to a further countless number of German residents.

- all of the accused are guilty of supporting a racially coloured, vindictively enforced anti-dog policy which suggests to the international community that Germany is again promoting infamous and notorious persecution methods known from the past, and so is injuring Germany's new and hard won international respect.

They are guilty, through their behaviour, of displaying to the rising generations of Germany and other countries an example of dissolution of social structures, of barbarity and brutish violence.

They are guilty of seeking to introduce their evil policies to other countries within the EU.

The Court therefore proposes that immediate steps be taken to put into force the following motions of the prosecution found by the Court to be lawful and constructive:

1. To cancel the present regulations and laws pertaining to the keeping of dogs in the German Republic, the abolition of all lists of breeds and the prohibiting of dog culls based on breed. The unconditional lifting of the new federal law "for the control of dangerous dogs" dated 12th April 2001.

2. The public rehabilitation of dogs featured on the blacklist and their listed owners. All race biased discrimination (tests of character, 'fighting dog' taxes, transportation prohibitions, public earmarking of dogs and owners and other such practises) are to be abandoned. For those dogs left to their fate in animal sanctuaries because of present discriminating practises, measures are to be taken and financial solutions are to be introduced which, if necessary, will allow these dogs to be cared-for in a protected manner, either for life or until a suitable owner can be found.

3. Those dogs which already suffer from behavioural problems are to undergo a psychological-expertise examination at the hands of an independent, court supervised, and sworn-in panel of experts.

4. Dog owners and breeders are to be closely controlled by a pet-keeping and breeding law. Abuse of dogs by the use of prey catching techniques, and/or training methods for dog fights, as well as failure to take good care of the dogs or the use of torture, are to be severely punished. Dogs with an inadequate behavioural balance are to take part in social rehabilitating programmes. Painless killing of these dogs is only to be permitted when the animals are truly dangerous and none of the rehabilitating programmes were successful.

The proposition by the defence that a law office for dogs be created and in particular, dog defence lawyers be named by the federal government at the suggestion of humane organisations is seen by the court as being not only sensible but imperative.

The Court appeals to all EU countries not to follow Germany's dangerous example of race biaised, anticonstitutional standardizing of dogs.

Geneva, 7th May 2001

Copies of this verdict to:

- the accused
- the governments of the EU countries
- the EU Commission
- the European Parliament
- the Council of Europe
- the European Court of Justice
- the European Court of Justice for Human Rights

Copyright (c) Nick Mays/OUR DOGS, May 2001