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Our View: New bird-trapping bill panders to poachers.

THE BILL for poaching, which will be discussed at today's House plenum, is a shining example of the cynical ways in which deputies can deceive people, especially the gullible Europeans. A bill that will essentially relax existing laws' provisions against bird poachers and allow restaurants to serve ambelopoulia, is being sold as more effective.

House legal affairs committee chairman Adamos Adamou said the bill that will introduce on-the-spot fines instead of taking lawbreakers to court, would tackle bird poaching and improve Cyprus' image by addressing the European Commission's concerns. In other words, the new law will help us fool the Commission, telling them we are clamping down on the trapping of endangered birds while doing the exact opposite.

The facts speak for themselves. Under the existing laws all types of bird trapping -- through mist nets or limesticks -- are offences for which the culprits have to appear in court. The new bill, if passed, would lead to on-the-spot fines and distinguish between the trapping methods used. There would be a smaller fine for the use of limesticks, suggesting that killing songbirds using this method is less of an offence. One deputy claimed that this would encourage people to use limesticks, which trap fewer song-birds than mist nets.

This is an astonishing argument, indicating that lawmakers content to see people breaking the law as long as it is done on a smaller scale. It does not matter that the Republic has signed international conventions undertaking to stop the killing of endangered bird species. Killing a few will be punished by small fine that will only be a fraction of what the poacher will make from selling the birds to a restaurant that offers them illegally. The bill also had a provision allowing the ambelopoulia to be served under certain conditions, but it may have been removed.

Interestingly, deputies claimed that the issuing of fines is a better way of dealing with the problem, as taking offenders to court is a long, drawn-out process that takes years. They ignored the fears expressed by game wardens who feel their safety will be at risk if they issue fines to poachers, as they have often used violence against anyone trying to prevent them from breaking the law.

The truth is, regardless of what deputies say, the new bill is designed to make the illegal trapping of song-birds easier, by reducing the deterrents. There is no doubt that the bill that panders to the poachers, but we are sure the European Commission will be fooled.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:4EXCY
Date:Jun 30, 2017
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