A Belgian animal rights organization has been ordered to halt its horse meat awareness campaign.

According to Belga News Agency, a judge has ordered GAIA, a Belgian animal protection organization, to discontinue its campaign against horse meat from South America or face fines of €1,000 per day.

GAIA has already indicated its intention to challenge the verdict, which was made by a court in Brussels.

According to the organization, horse meat imported for eating from South America by several Belgian supermarket stores comes from mistreated horses.

“Belgium is the second largest importer of horsemeat from Argentina and Uruguay,” GAIA Director Ann De Greef said in that campaign. “It is high time that all Belgian supermarkets stopped selling torture meat from Uruguay, Argentina, and Canada.”

According to the campaign, sick horses with open wounds, abscesses, and broken legs are neglected on Latin American ranches.

“They get no water, no food, and are beaten with sticks and abused with electric prods during their hours-long transport. Horses are hunted by dogs. Animals get caught in the barbed wire at the holding pens,”

Gaia went on to say that there is a lack of transparency regarding where the horses originate from, if they were intended for human consumption, and whether or not they have residues of prescription medicines in their systems.

They specifically list Carrefour, Match, and Renmans as retailers selling horsemeat from nations with similar difficulties.

Photo by Silje Midtgård on Unsplash

Multiple horse meat companies contacted GAIA almost immediately, requesting that the campaign be stopped, claiming that it was against fair trade and market standards and featured “untrue, misleading and unsubstantiated information that constitutes a damaging attack on their reputation.”

GAIA did not appear in front of the Enterprise Court and was thus found guilty in her absence.

The €1,000-per-day fines it faces if the campaign continues are limited at €250,000, and the cease and desist injunction is only in effect until December 31.

In a statement, the organization’s counsel said.

“GAIA has taken note of the ruling [sic] and has today been ordered to do everything necessary to have this decision of the company court removed from the legal system,”

“In a democratic society, meat importers must also accept that there are animal rights organisations that use their right to free speech to protest against abuses. I will submit to the court a thick dossier proving the mistreatment of South American horses,”

While “the importers would like to keep the lid to this stinking jar closed,” they will not allow it, according to the organization.

This isn’t the first time the animal rights organization has been scolded for advocating for the consumption of horse meat from South America.

Renmans, a chain butcher, was accused of selling horse meat from abused horses in a prior campaign. GAIA was found guilty in that case by the Brussels Court of Appeal in 2018.

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