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The Italian job - or how to pervert the course of justice:

Lifting of bans on bird hunting and trapping in 2011

In 2011, as every year, several North Italian regions and provinces have blatantly contravened EU legislation by lifting the ban on hunting protected bird species and also permitted trapping in huge netting facilities. The Committee Against Bird Slaughter and its Italian partner organisation LAC have taken regional authorities to court and - as every year - have won their case in almost all instances. In 2011 local politicians once again played a cat-and-mouse game with the courts and conservationists - a practice not known elsewhere on the same scale in Europe. For instance:

Veneto: Hunting of Finches and Pipits

Venice: Shot ChaffinchVenice: Shot ChaffinchOn 20.09.2011 the Veneto regional government issued a regulation opening the hunting season for Chaffinch, Brambling, Hawfinch and Tree and Meadow Pipit. All five species are protected by Italian and EU legislation. CABS and the LAC appealed against the lifting of the hunting ban and the administrative court in Venice ruled in our favour. On 30.11.2011 the Veneto government again permitted hunting of these species. We again appealed and again win our case. On 25.11 the hunting of finches and was finally ended for this year.

Liguria: Hunting of Starlings

Under Italian law the Starling is a protected species. Nonetheless the Ligurian regional government exceptionally opened the hunting season of Starlings on 29.07.2011. The LAC appealed against the lifting of the hunting ban and the administrative court in Genoa ruled in their favour. Hunting was stopped immediately but was permitted again under a new exceptional regulation on 03.11.2011. The LAC appealed again to the same court and again won their case. The hunting season for Starlings was closed again on 15.11.2011.

Lombardy: Bird trapping in Brescia

Brescia: Brambling used as hunting decoyBrescia: Brambling used as hunting decoyIn 2011, Brescia Province again issued special permits for bird trapping with nets. On 01.10.2011 the 22 trapping installations were opened for trapping of Song Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Blackbird and Skylark, to be used by hunters as decoys. The five species are legally huntable but the use of nets for trapping is banned throughout Europe. CABS and the LAC appealed to the administrative court in Milan and won the case on 27.10.2011. The immediate closure of the installations was ordered by the court. The installations were however reopened by Brescia Province on 23.11.2011. This time around only Fieldfares were permitted to be trapped. Our immediate appeal was granted only two days later on 25.11.2011 and the installations were again closed down.

Lombardy: Bird trapping in Bergamo

Other judges - other judgements: On 01.10.2011 Bergamo province issued special permits for the opening of 19 trapping installations. Our complaint to the administrative court in Milan led to the closure of all these installations on 03.11.2011, but the sites were reopened and trapping was again permitted from 17.11.2011. Although the facts of the case are similar to those in the neighbouring province of Brescia, and the case was heard by the same court, the judges were of the opinion in this case that bird trapping in Bergamo could continue.

Lombardy: Bird trapping law

Lombardy: Song Thrush in a mist netLombardy: Song Thrush in a mist netAnd to complicate matters even more ….. In order for the provinces to have any form of legal basis for issuing special permits to trap birds with nets, The Lombardy region has to approve a new law every year. The Italian constitution however does not provide for such laws to be passed by the regions. The regional laws are therefore unconstitutional.

In the case of the laws passed to permit bird trapping in 2010, the central government in Rome appealed to the Constitutional Court that proclaimed a judgement on 11.11.2011 stating that the previous year’s laws passed in Lombardy were illegal. That was in any event quite clear in advance, as the court had decreed the same judgement in 2009. Nonetheless the Lombardy regional government permitted bird trapping yet again in 2011. The new Italian government under Prime Minister Mario Monti again appealed to the Constitutional Court on 21.11.2011.

It is clear that the Constitutional Court will next year again rule that the law passed in 2011 was unconstitutional. And of course Lombardy will permit bird trapping in 2012, and this will be ruled unconstitutional in 2013 an so on and so forth …..

European Court of Justice: Brussels und Luxembourg make their voices heard

In 2010 the European Court of Justice condemned Italy for continued offences against European Common Law (hunting of protected bird species, bird trapping with nets). As the court’s judgement was clearly ignored by both the national government in Rome and the local authorities in the North Italian regions and provinces, the European Commission filed a further complaint against Italy in Luxembourg on 24.11.2011. If Italy is found guilty of such offences again a financial sanctions will be taken by the Commission.

Costs

The costs to the Committee Against Bird Slaughter for the appeals to the various regional administrative courts, to the Higher Constitutional Court and the monitoring of the cases before the European Court of Justice amount to between 8,000 and 10,000 Euros annually, funded exclusively from donations.