Ban on ritual slaughter can only be fought through the courts, Polish official tells ‘Post’

Poland’s ban on ritual slaughter can only be abrogated by way of the courts and not by way of executive fiat

September 30, 2013 00:53
2 minute read.
Muslims stand next to sheep  for ritual slaughter

Ritual slaughter 311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Poland’s ban on ritual slaughter can only be abrogated by way of the courts and not by way of executive fiat, a Polish government official told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.

The official spoke in response to demands by a Jewish organization that the government immediately “cancel” the law.

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Shechita, the Jewish practice of ritual slaughter, ceased in Poland in January, following a ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court that the Agriculture Ministry did not have the authority to exempt Muslims and Jews from an animal protection law law requiring that animals be stunned before slaughter. In July, a government- sponsored bill aimed at reinstituting the religious exception failed to pass in parliament.

Subsequently, the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland brought a lawsuit to the Constitutional Court, claiming that the ban infringed religious rights guaranteed by the country’s constitution.

Ritual slaughter, which is invalidated if the animal is first stunned, is also legal under the 1997 Act on the Relation of the State to the Jewish Communities in Poland, which legalized the practice, the plaintiffs claim.

Just before Succot began in mid-September, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director-general of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association, announced that “the ritual slaughter ban was adopted in violation of the European law that requires formal notification of the EU Commission for legislation that contravenes EU regulation.”

As such, Margolin told the European Jewish Press, he was hopeful the government would “now adopt the legal opinion formulation and cancel the Polish parliament decision.”

The European Jewish Association contends that Poland did not adequately satisfy European Union conditions for implementing stiffer national guidelines for the protection of animals in slaughterhouses than those required by European Council regulation 1099/2009, which came into effect on January 1.

“The matter can only be settled by the Constitutional Court,” a spokesman for Minister of Administration and Digitization Michal Boni, the government’s point man on the issue of shechita, told the Post. Poland has followed all relevant EC regulations, he asserted.

“The Polish government has written clearly on this matter,” Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich told the Post in response to the government statement. “We are grateful that the government continues to give such a high priority to ensuring the rights of the Jewish community in Poland.”

The European Jewish Association did not respond to a request for comment.

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