Sunday, September 13, 2020

EU Court of Justice Advocate General Says Ban On Ritual Slaughter Is Invalid

The Court of Justice of the European Union last week released an Advocate General's opinion concluding that a decree of Belgium's Flemish region effectively banning kosher and Halal slaughter violates European Union law.  In Centraal IsraĆ«litisch Consistorie van BelgiĆ« and Others, (Sept. 10, 2020), Belgium's Constitutional Court requested a preliminary ruling on whether the Flemish region can require stunning of animals prior to slaughter.  The Advocate General concluded that the questions referred to the Court of Justice be answered as follows:

Point (c) of the first subparagraph of Article  26(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No  1099/2009 of 24 September 2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing, read together with Article 4(1) and 4(4) thereof, and having regard to Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 13 TFEU, must be interpreted as meaning that Member States are not permitted to adopt rules which provide, on the one hand, for a prohibition of the slaughter of animals without stunning that also applies to the slaughter carried out in the context of a religious rite and, on the other hand, for an alternative stunning procedure for the slaughter carried out in the context of a religious rite, based on reversible stunning and on condition that the stunning should not result in the death of the animal.

It had been argued that it should be at least permitted to require stunning that is reversible just prior to slaughter.  The Advocate General rejected this claim, saying in part:

There has also been some debate before the Court as to whether the prior reversible stunning which does not lead to the death of an animal or post-cut stunning of vertebrates satisfies the particular methods of slaughter prescribed by religious rites of both the Muslim and Jewish faiths. In that regard, it would seem that there are divergent views on the matter within both faiths. As I pointed out in my Opinion in Case C-243/19 A. v. Veselibas Ministrija, a secular court cannot choose in relation to the matters of religious orthodoxy:

[Thanks to Law & Religion UK for the lead.]