Swiss say no to animal rights referendum

Animal rights activists in Switzerland have failed in a bid to have animals represented by lawyers in a nationwide referendum over the weekend.

Swiss Animal Protection had called for the introduction of a nationwide system of state-funded lawyers to represent animals in court in cases of cruelty,

The idea would have followed a practice already in existence in the city of Zurich since 1992.

However, around 70% rejected the proposal.

The Swiss Government as well as farmers had been opposed to the measure in a country that is described as having the most stringent animal rights laws in the world.

Hansjorg Walter, Swiss Farmers Union president, said: Voters have taken a pragmatic decision and acknowledged that Switzerland has one of the strictest animal welfare laws.

The Union wants proper enforcement of animal welfare. Violations harm the image of farmers. But the stringent checks and penalties for misconduct are already severe.

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