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15 January 2009 - Japanese whalers in contempt of Australian Federal Court      

Japanese whalers in contempt of Australian Federal Court

Sydney, 15 January 2009                  
                                                                                                                                                

Today marks the anniversary of Humane Society International’s hard won Federal Court ruling against the Japanese whaling company that kills whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary.

On 15 January last year, the Federal Court ruled that the Japanese whaling company, Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd, is in breach of Australian law when it kills whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary in Antarctica and ordered that the hunt be stopped.

With a permit from the Japanese Government, the company returned to kill whales in the sanctuary this year in flagrant contempt of the Federal Court Order.

The hunt in the Australian Whale Sanctuary was witnessed and reported on by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

While deeply frustrated that the hunt has continued, HSI is at least glad to learn the company fears arrest as a result of our court case which is causing them logistical difficulties. It has been reported that a damaged whaling vessel was sent all the way from Antarctica to Indonesia for repairs knowing it could be arrested in an Australian or New Zealand port and charged with contempt of court.

“HSI calls on the Japanese Government to fully respect Australian law and refrain from killing whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary and to respect international law and stop killing whales in Antarctica and the North Pacific in defiance of the moratorium on commercial whaling instituted by the International Whaling Commission,” said Nicola Beynon, HSI Senior Program Manager.

Despite strong opposition to Japan’s whale hunts voiced at the International Whaling Commission and through diplomatic channels, the Australian Government has thus far refused to enforce the Federal Court order due to sensitivities over Australian sovereignty in Antarctica.

Reluctant to enforce the Federal Court ruling HSI obtained, the Government has yet to announce whether it will pursue its own separate court case against the Government of Japan for abusing the loophole for scientific whaling that exists in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling which otherwise prohibits commercial whaling.

HSI first proposed such a case a decade ago and it does not involve issues of Australian sovereignty. Only governments are able to bring such a case to the international courts. “HSI will continue to do all in our powers to bring an end to commercial whaling,” said Ms Beynon. “We continue to ask that the Australian Government does all in its powers too.”





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