The Polish constitutional court ruled on Tuesday that the practice of ritual
slaughter without stunning was illegal in Poland based on animal welfare
However, the decision will only come into effect on
January 1, the same date on which a European Union directive regarding the
production of kosher and halal meat will also come become operative and which
will most likely supersede the constitutional court’s ruling.
Minister for Agriculture Stanislaw Kalemba said on Polish radio following the
decision that the EU law would indeed supplant the court ruling, ensuring that
religious slaughter remains legal in the country.
The Warsaw court’s
ruling said the government had acted unconstitutionally when it exempted Jews
and Muslims from stunning animals before slaughtering them, according to Piotr
Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland.
Kadlcik noted that in addition to the special exception provided by the Polish
Ministry of Agriculture, Jewish ritual slaughter, or shechita, was also made
permissible under the 1997 Law on Regulating the Relations between the State and
the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland.
“It appears there is a legal
contradiction here and it is too early to tell what this means,” Kadlcik said
regarding the possible conflict between the court ruling and the EU
“We are seeking legal advice on this right now.”
Conference of European Rabbis (CER) also expressed concern with the possible
legal problems arising from the ruling.
“This latest development in
Poland is a deeply troubling challenge to a fundamental cornerstone of Jewish
religious practice,” said Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the
“We know from the CER’s most recent meeting with President Bronisaw
Komorowski that the political will to protect Shechita is there. Our challenge
is to ensure that translates into a swift resolution of this constitutional
The EU directive, which will come into effect on January 1,
sets common rules for the religious slaughter across the 27- nation bloc, but
allows individual countries discretion on whether to apply these
Poland’s chief prosecutor turned to the Constitutional Court in
June at the behest of animal rights groups, AFP reported.
approximately 6,000 Jews, according to the European Jewish
Kadlcik said kosher meat is served at kosher canteens across
the country. “I’m not sure we will be able to keep serving meat there,”
According to AFP, Poland is home to two dozen slaughterhouses
that specialize in kosher and halal slaughter, much of which is exported. The
value of last year’s exports was estimated at $259 million.
In June 2011,
a bill banning religious slaughter was passed in Holland by the Dutch
parliament’s lower house, although it was rejected by the upper house earlier