A ban on bird hunters taking their children with them while hunting would be a breach of human rights, the hunters' federation (FKNK) said on Tuesday.
In an open letter to various ministers, the police commissioner and the commissioner for children, the federation said the call, by BirdLife, "instigates more aggravation towards hunters which can only lead to direct confrontation."
BirdLife reported last week how a child was seen handling a shotgun and being guided to aim and shoot at a bird in Miżieb.
The federation said such a law, were it ever to be enacted, would contravene Article 2 of the Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which states: “the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions”.
Furthermore, the FKNK said, such a law would further contradict key principles set out in the Council of Europe’s Charter on Hunting and Biodiversity, which was adopted by the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention in November 2007. The Charter promotes the continuity of hunting as one of the most important instruments of game management. "Preventing and prohibiting young people from joining hunts would lead to a situation whereby there are not enough hunters to support natural environment conservation," it said.
It observed that there is a growing trend in youth engagement in hunting in many European countries and several governments are supporting their national hunting associations to promote hunting among young people.
"The participation of youth in hunting is widely recognised as providing key knowledge about nature and a deep understanding of wildlife management and animal welfare. It is not only positive for children’s mental health, but also their physical development particularly at a time when young people are spending less time outdoors."
Moreover, a ban on the participation of youth in hunting eliminated the possibility of transferring hunting traditions and culture to younger generations.
It insisted that it is a fundamental right for parents to educate and raise their children according to their own beliefs and in the best interest of their children.
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