Today GAIA welcomes the European Court of Justice’s ruling, confirming that ritual slaughter without stunning may take place only in approved slaughterhouses and that this obligation does not infringe freedom of religion.
From 1998, Belgian legislation provided that slaughter prescribed by a religious rite could be carried out only in approved or temporary slaughterhouses. In 2014, the Minister for the Flemish Region responsible for animal welfare announced that he would no longer give approval for temporary slaughter houses on the ground that such approval is contrary to EU law, specifically the provisions of a 2009 regulation on the protection of animals at the time of killing. From 2015 all slaughter of animals without stunning, even slaughter during the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, had to be carried out exclusively in approved slaughterhouses. It is in that context that, in 2016, various Muslim associations and an umbrella organisation of mosques brought an action against the Flemish Region that decided to refer the matter to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling. In today’s judgment, the Court of Justice reaffirms the obligation to carry out ritual slaughter in an approved slaughterhouse.
— GAIA (@GAIABrussels) May 29, 2018
Michel Vandenbosch, GAIA’s president, was present when the Court delivered its judgment. He welcomed this decision: “GAIA intervened in this case to support the Flemish Government and its Animal Welfare Minister, Ben Weyts. The Court’s ruling confirms that the Minister has correctly applied European law, and that slaughter without stunning is permanently prohibited on temporary sites.
Mr. Anthony Godfroid, GAIA’s attorney, comments: “This decision gives us hope for the ongoing cases before the Constitutional Court concerning appeals against the unanimous adoption in Wallonia and Flanders of slaughter without stunning.”