It’s the conflict between animal welfare and rituals that is being judged in Europe

On February 13, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a ruling that supported Ban on slaughter of animals without stunning Of earlier With halal and kosher rituals typical of the Muslim and Jewish religions in the regions of Flanders and Wallonia (Belgium).

The ECtHR has adopted this position in favor of legislation on animal welfare in these territories, despite the fact that European rules, which require stunning animals to prevent their suffering, consider religious reasons. Exception,

animal sacrifice

meat production in the world animal sacrifice In or outside slaughterhouses. Although it is true that in recent years we have seen the development of meat production in the laboratory, this method of production is far from being able to meet the demand for animal protein of the world population.

,This is superior quality Spanish meat that is still raised on ‘macro farms’,

Slaughter of animals for meat production is a complex process consisting of several steps: Inspection before deathstunning, slaughter, inspection post mortemControl and transmission.

The entire process should be completed in the following manner some good practicesRefers to the hygiene of the process (usually in slaughterhouses), veterinary controls (which ensure the healthfulness of the meat) and the method of slaughter.

Tejaswi causes controversy

Haemorrhage involves the loss of consciousness of the animal before bleeding occurs and is based on human sacrificeBecause this reduces their pain.

Prior stunning is included as an obligation in European Council Regulation 1099/2009 of 24 September 2009 regarding the protection of animals at slaughter. However, there are exceptions related to particular methods of slaughter prescribed by religious rites, including halal rites and kosher rites. Both the rituals match in need The animal is alive before the neck is cut. Promoting the shedding of blood and sacrifice of animals.

The figure in this situation of dispute reversible stunning, this concept is being considered surprising as it does not lead to the death of the animal. In view of this, Flanders and Wallonia, with the possibility of legislating on animal welfare, revised their laws in 2017 and 2018 respectively, mandating reversible stunning even in cases of religious rites.

Jewish and Muslim communities questioned the validity of the rules, accusing them of violating the right to religious freedom, which is recognized in Art. 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and in Art. 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Thus, we find ourselves faced with a scenario in which there is a clear conflict of interest. On the one hand, there is the above-mentioned right to religious freedom, which includes not only the right to practice any religion but also to practice certain rites of passage therein. And on the other hand, the duty to guarantee animal welfare, clearly mentioned in Art. 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

decisions of three courts

Three courts have intervened to resolve the conflict: the Belgian Constitutional Court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the European Court of Human Rights. The three judicial bodies have agreed on the outcome: Does not violate the right to religious freedom A regulation that requires animals to be unconscious before slaughter when the purpose is to guarantee their maximum welfare during the dying process.

Resolution of the Constitutional Court of Belgium

The Belgian Constitutional Court ruled in this regard in 2021, after submitting a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the EU, because of doubts about the compatibility between Belgian national rules and Community law.

Resolution of the Court of Justice of the European Union

The CJEU resolved the conflict in its judgment of 17 December 2020 in case C-336/19 Central Israeli Consistory Van Belgie et al., There it is stated that Regulation 1099/2009 does not prevent Member States from imposing the obligation of stunning before slaughter, which also applies in the case of slaughter dictated by religious rites. Even if the exercise of the right to religious freedom is limited in a certain way, such interference would respond to an objective of general interest recognized by the Union: the promotion of animal welfare.

It is concluded that the measures contained in the Flemish law make it possible to guarantee proper balance Between animal welfare and the freedom of Jewish and Muslim believers to express their religion. On the one hand, there is scientific consensus that pre-stunning is the best means to reduce the suffering of animals at the time of slaughter. On the other hand, the rule in question does not prohibit or hinder the marketing of animal products obtained from animals slaughtered according to ritual practice, when they come from a territory where it is legal to obtain them according to religious rites.

Resolution of the European Court of Human Rights

Not satisfied with these decisions, Muslim and Jewish groups went to the European Court of Human Rights and again alleged violations of their right to religious freedom. In its decision of 13 February (Executive Officer of the Muslims of Belgium and Others Vs. belgium), the ECtHR accepts the CJEU’s arguments as its own.

However, there is a difference between the two statements regarding the interests to be weighed. Unlike EU law, which explicitly recognizes animal welfare as an objective of general interest, the European Convention on Human Rights does not aim to protect this welfare.

Now, the ECtHR understands that the protection of animals is recognized through the legitimate aim of protecting “public morality”, understanding that the notion of morality is constantly evolving and, in today’s society, constitutes animal welfare. Is Ethical values To which contemporary democratic societies give credit of increasing importance. Therefore, this value should be taken into account when evaluating restrictions placed on the external expression of religious beliefs.

Once the conflict of interest has been resolved in the terms set out above, these proposals support the approval of similar rules by the rest of the EU countries and the Council of Europe. In fact, such legislation already exists in other states such as Slovenia, Finland, Sweden or Denmark, which came forward in the proceedings before the ECtHR in defense of its legislation.

* Anastasio Arguello Henriquez is Professor of Animal Production at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

* Noemi Castro Navarro is Professor of Animal Production at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

, sergio romeo malanda pProfessor of Criminal Law at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

**This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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