Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that the ritual slaughter of animals by religious groups, including Jews and Muslims, violates the country’s constitution and its animal protection laws.
The ruling puts it in conflict with European Union rules that allow the practice on the grounds of religious freedom.
Judges yesterday said regulations allowing for animals to have their throats cut and then bleed to death without having been stunned are against Polish law. The court also said that, in issuing regulations that allow for such practices, the agriculture minister exceeded his powers and violated the constitution.
The ruling sets the stage for more discussion when an EU law goes into effect on 1 January allowing the practice and setting common standards among members. It gives animal rights supporters fuel for debate next year on whether Poland must comply with EU laws.
Poland introduced its regulations in 2004, when it joined the EU, intending to bring the national laws closer to those of the bloc.
The agriculture ministry has provided licences to 17 slaughterhouses to carry out the ritual. Poland has small Muslim and Jewish minorities and also exports meat from ritual slaughter.