European Court of Human Rights supports ban on slaughter without stunning


European Court of Human Rights supports ban on slaughter without stunning

14 February 2024
A new ruling maintains that a ban on slaughter without stunning in two Belgian regions is proportional and pursues a legitimate objective, that of ensuring animal welfare, in line with the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Belgian Constitutional Court.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has validated the Walloon and Flemish bans on slaughter without stunning, ruling that it does not constitute an illegitimate obstacle to freedom of religion, or a violation of the prohibition on discrimination.

Slaughter without stunning exposes animals to severe and prolonged suffering, in some cases lasting up to 12 minutes. EU law establishes that animals can only be killed after stunning, however it provides derogations for ritual slaughter.

The ban on slaughter without stunning in Flanders came into force in January 2019, with Wallonia following shortly after, in response to years of activism against the practice. Only the Brussels region continues to allow ritual slaughter, with hundreds of animals being slaughtered consciously every day. 

Other EU member states such as Sweden, Slovenia and Denmark have placed bans on slaughter without stunning.

 This is one of the happiest days of my life as an animal activist. This decision confirms that the fight for greater respect for animals is legitimate. It now fully paves the way for a ban in the Brussels Region, the only region in the country to make an exception.

Michel Vandenbosch, President, GAIA

GAIA calls on the Brussels-Capital Region to comply with the various court rulings and finally ban slaughter without stunning.