Indonesian Policy Bits: Abattoir Monitoring

Australia stopped some of its cattle exports to Indonesia following some video footage on the condition of the abbatoirs in Indonesia. Obviously there is a lack of monitoring on the standards practiced in these abbatoirs and I’ll be giving some quick analysis on the issue (Warning: this post will contain some gruesome images, viewer’s discretion advised).


Australia stopped some of its cattle exports to Indonesia following some video footage on the condition of the abattoirs in Indonesia. Obviously there is a lack of monitoring on the standards practiced in these abattoirs and I’ll be giving some quick analysis on the issue (Warning: this post contains some gruesome images, viewer’s discretion advised).


The Australian government suspended live cattle exports to 11 Indonesian abattoirs after the documentation of the abattoirs’ condition in video footages showing distressed cattle, whipped and tortured before they were cut by their throats. The full video footages can be seen here, but some of the screenshots where the steers are treated cruelly, whereby their tails are pulled, their faces kicked and their eyes poked are below.

Cruel Treatment of Cattle in Indonesian Abbatoirs
Cruel Treatment of Cattle in Indonesian Abattoirs - Screenshots from Animals Australia

First thought that came through my mind was how did such atrocities happened because as far to my knowledge, the halal way of slaughtering cattle is to inflict the least painful way for the animal being killed and to do it in the most humane way as possible. If we still allow such cruel practices, won’t Indonesians – whereby most of the population are Muslims – are not eating halal meat?

Let me put the halal debate aside for a while and stick to the regulations first.

I quickly browsed through the related regulations and the first one I checked was Law No. 18/2009 on Farming and Animal Health. In article 1 (42) it defines Animal Welfare as

“…every matter related to the physical and mental condition of the animal according to the measure of its natural behavior which have to be implemented and upheld to protect the animal from any kind of unacceptable acts towards animals utilized by humans” (unofficial translation – bold added by myself)

In Article 61(1)(b) of that Law, it states that the butchering of these animals must follow the health principles of the veterinarian community and animal welfare. Article 66 (2)(f) further states that

“the cutting and killing of the animals must be conducted in the best possible way so that the animal is free from pain, fear and pressure, torture and misuse

So the rules are already there, it is just that any violation of these principles, however, are not criminalized. There are possibilities for administrative sanctions, which array from stopping their business, their abattoir licenses being revoked or even financial penalties.

Abattoir licenses are given by each of the local government in Indonesia, under the authority of each Regent or Mayor (Bupati/Walikota). These abattoir businesses must fulfill the technical standards under Ministry of Agriculture Regulation Number 13/Permentan/OT.140/1/2010 on Requirements for Ruminantia Abattoirs and Meat Cutting Plants.

Under this regulation, it reiterates that the killing of these animals must follow the principles of animal welfare and Islamic syariah law. Violation of the technical requirements of cutting and/or handling of ruminantia meat may cause the abattoirs to lose their licenses (Article 39(4)(b) of the Ministerial Regulation).

The monitoring of these abattoirs must be conducted under the supervision of a veterinarian authorized in veterinary public health. Law 18/2008 mentioned about a veterinary authority, but then I found out that this was never established. Currently, the veterinary authority is under the Ministry of Agriculture on the rank of an Echelon II. Therefore, they don’t have many powers and are not independent to conduct monitoring as such. It is then not a surprise that the condition of the abattoirs are not monitored regularly.

From this point on I believe that the underlying problem is that the Ministry of Agriculture does not think of the veterinarian occupation as well as animal health and welfare seriously.

Now if we want to look whether the killing of these cattle are halal or not, I found out this website on the conditions for halal slaughter and even some information whether stunning the animal prior to the killing can be considered halal. For stunning to be acceptable in Islam, according to that website, the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  • The use of stunning equipment must be under the control of a Muslim supervisor, or a slaughterman or halal certification authority at all times.
  • The animal should be stunned temporarily only. The stunning should neither kill nor cause permanent injury to the animal.
  • Gadgets used to stun pigs must not be used to stun halal animals.

I thought this was supposed to be an Indonesian Policy Bits segment, so I apologize for the long post in the end. But anyhow, the lengthy explanation was necessary to show you that neither by current Indonesian regulations nor halal standards that the cruel acts shown in these abattoirs are acceptable.

It is a pity that we have only taken attention on this issue after the Australians decided to ban their cattle exports to Indonesia. Now the ball is in the hands of the Indonesian government. We’ll see.

7 thoughts on “Indonesian Policy Bits: Abattoir Monitoring”

  1. 1) After killing and sidelining Aborigin, do they concern on animal rights?

    2) In the fish’s point of view, human being is cruel, because they make us (fish) suffocated. Had the fish had animal rights activists, they would have protested us (human being) all the time.

    3) On “free from pain, fear and pressure, torture and misuse“. In case of fish, how can we know that they are free from pain, fear when out of oxygen?

    Animal and plant is available for human being’s survival. We hardly use human feeling to judge the way we “kill” them.

    1. I think the point on Australians and their treatment for the Aborigines is irrelevant for this issue at the moment. They might have done some wrong in the past (or perhaps until now, I don’t know) but officially their government, through the then PM Rudd, have apologized for their wrongdoings against the Aborigines.

      Of course, human beings are on top of the food chain and killing animals is part of the process for us to get our food. It is just that the method of killing that I’m debating here.

      Indonesia have set their own regulations and must follow its own rules, as well as the halal procedures. If the rules are there but they don’t abide it, then what does it say about the government?

      The harsh reality is, the government is struggling to protect our own citizens working abroad as maids, i.e. in Saudi Arabia and here we are demanding cows to be protected also. So I guess the priority is just not there yet.

  2. First of all, Erwin’s first point about aboriginal peoples of Australia is a red-herring. It has nothing to do with the subject at hand, and everything to do with a knee-jerk nationalist response. If he wants to be taken seriously, he’s gonna have to think and actually address the issue, rather than hide behind red-herrings.

    I am torn about that video. On one hand, what do you expect? The slaughter of animals for human consumption is bound, regardless of the method and procedure, to be a painful and bloody affair. On the other hand, what do you expect? We are talking about Indonesia. Business and commercial practicess, and governance as well as awareness about cruelty to animals lags several decades.

    Thinking outside the box, the video is downright Orwellian. Take, for instance, the phrase “to slaughter humanely” bandied about. Another is the concept that animals have nationalities and therefore that Australian cattle deserve better treatment than, say, a Batak or a Minang cow. Ridiculous, ain’t it? Finally, religion rears its ugly head. The cow cannot be stunned before it’s killed? It has to face Mecca while its throat is being slit? WTF, give me a freakin’ break. The fact of the matter is that if beings from another planet to tried to slughter humans for food, we would have absolutely no moral or ethical stance with which to counter the practice, for we are doing precisely the same thing to animals.

  3. very cruel indeed.. i once heard that some people force cows to drink as many water as possible until they finally die :((

    we eat their meat, but that doesn’t mean we have to make them suffer before they finally die..

  4. Since certain regulations are already in Indonesia,Halal and is astounding that nothing was followed up in the first place and this is Govt./Country lack of accountability. In Aus the public rose with one voice and sent the Aus Govt thousands of protest emails/letters as to the method used in some abbattoirs which was terrible. These animals are bred top class quality and to be mutilated,crippled and tortured and terrified so that they would have reacted to help themselves more.They have instincts as do humans and we are of the animal kingdom with 2 legs and these bovine are 4 still feel instinctively fear, terror and terrible pain.In the sight of God, whichever God we worship this is terribly wrong and primitive in this day and age and has to be rectified, from the Halal religious point as well as the humane point of view.The Govt of Australia is willing to teach,train and put in funds in improving conditions,also the Meat Trade Industry in Australia.Some abbattoirs are top class, others can follow, until then they should have no access to ANY animals, be it Indonesian or Australian. This is a depravity and primitiveness beyond understanding. Honestly, can any human stand up and say if I am to be executed I do not mind this treatment? Do unto others as you will be done unto. Retribution is there for one and all regardless, of caste, religion or creed, at the end we have a conscience to deal with and God to answer to who has provided good prime,disease free meat, not to be mutilated or disrespected, be it even a potato or carrot if it is difficult to pull out do we hack it,smash it to get it out,it will be useless. We need to think and answer to ourselves.It was the Australian public that brought this tremendous swell of protest the Aus Government had to respond so as is suggested in some comments it is not political or racial. But for a good cause that the PEOPLE OF AUS FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE PROTESTED so that this trade is proper and sustainable as long as needed. Thanks

  5. Further I understand that the stun method is used in some Indon abbattoirs.This renders the animal unconscious without infringing on Halal methods and has been accepted, so perhaps this will eventuate in due course in those abbattoirs that did not have it.This is humane, just like having an anaesthetic prior to operations.

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