Australian authorities respect ritual slaughter methods

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 4th November 2011

The Australian Government’s Primary Industries Ministerial Council (PIMC) has ruled that ritual slaughter methods will continue to be exempt from any “stunning” requirements.

The decision came at the end of last week (28 October 2011) when the PIMC considered the issue in Melbourne at its 21st meeting.

Jewish and Muslim dietary laws do not allow for animals to be stunned before application of the knife by the slaughterer. In respect of this, a number of abattoirs where Kosher slaughter or Halal slaughter are licensed [editor’s note: Halal and Kosher are very different processes and separate abattoirs are licensed for one or the other] in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales are to remain permitted by law to slaughter animals without use of the stunning bolt. [Editor’s note: ‘Stunning’ could be considered a euphemism for the actual slaughter by the retractable bolt that penetrates the brain of the animal before ‘sticking’.]

Primary Industries ministers from around Australia reviewed results from a two-year consultation with all stakeholders considering all the science involved in all slaughter methods and the accepted views of religious groups around the slaughter methods.

The PMIC, which is the peak Australian government forum (including Federal and all State governments) for consultation on primary industries issues, resolved to maintain discussions with the religious groups in order to “settle an applicable risk management framework”.

In a letter to Senator Joe Ludwig, Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Dr Danny Lamm, President of Executive Council of Australian Jewry wrote, “Animal slaughter in Australia, including kosher slaughter, is closely monitored and regulated, and the standards of shechita itself, which forbid the mistreatment of the animal in any way, are very exacting.

“Kosher slaughter has always been legally permitted in Australia and the introduction of any prohibition of what has been a lawful practice for over 200 years [editor’s note: since European settlement of Australia began] should not be countenanced in the absence of the most compelling and incontestable of reasons.”

Dutch Government considering ritual slaughter ban

By contrast to the Australian position, there are threats to Jewish and Muslim slaughter methods in Europe.

Although in February 2011, a majority in the Dutch Parliament voted against a proposed ban on ritual slaughter without stunning (citing a government advisory body report that deemed such a ban would violate freedom of religion), this has been challenged by moves initiated by a number of political activists.

In particular in June 2011, the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament passed a law that would ban all ritual slaughter without “stunning”. The Bill in the Lower House was initiated by the Dutch Party for the Animals, a minority political party dedicated primarily to an animal-focused political agenda.

The Dutch legislation provides for a temporary (maximum of five years) exemption from the ban if an applicant can show scientific evidence, subject to specific conditions, that the proposed method of unstunned slaughter does not cause the animal more distress than regular slaughter does.

The Dutch upper house of parliament is due to vote on the bill in December 2011.