Slaughter According to Religious Rite

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Existing Article 3 of the current Animal Protection Act defines the term "slaughter according to religious rite" as "the slaughter of animals without stunning, carried out by a person authorised by a religious community registered in the Republic of Croatia."

Muslim religious laws, among other things, demand that animals should be slaughtered by having their throats cut so that they are fully conscious, allowing for an easier blood discharge and full drainage so that their meat can be halal - allowed for consumption. Slaughter according to Jewish diet rules has the same demands. Consequently, there have been absurd law regulations created in the EU legislation, as well as Croatia's, which prescribe mandatory stunning for slaughtering of animals in slaughter houses, considering the scientifically proven suffering and pain which animals experience during their killing. However, for those same animals the duty of being stunned does not apply if they are being slaughtered for the religious community needs and their rituals, even though the animals during this suffer great pain, shock and fear, and their agony is extended by dying conscious until they bleed out.

According to the beliefs of the majority of Muslim butchers, all the blood can be drained only if the animal has its throat cut, without having been previously stunned. However, Hanuk Anil from the University of Bristol in Great Britain and his colleagues proved five years ago that the amount of blood drained from an animal is the same regardless of whether the animals was stunned or not prior to being slaughtered. "Stunning does not diminish discharge of blood, therefore that objection can no longer be used as justification," said Anil speaking as the coordinator of the European Union project for reviewing the legislation and animal welfare issues relating to slaughter according to religious rite shechita and halal. So, halal slaughter does not demand that animals are conscious and therefore the slaughter according to religious rite is illegal!

The Supreme Court in Poland was alerted to this matter on November 27, 2012, annulling the legality of slaughter according to religious rite. Namely, the Supreme Court in Poland announced that slaughter according to religious rite by religious organizations, including Jews and Muslims, where animals' throats are cut and they bleed out to death without prior stunning, violates the Polish constitution and animal protection laws. Thus they are in the intentional conflict with the European Union legislation which allows this practice based on freedom of religion. It's been said that the Minister of Agriculture is exceeding his authority and has violated the constitution by issuing regulations that allow such practices. This judgement sets the foundation for more discussions when the EU legislation comes into force on January 1 allowing this practice and setting the same standards for Member States. Poland introduced its regulations in 2004, when joining the EU, with the intention to pass national laws closer to the ones in the European Union.

Holland also tried to ban slaughtering of animals without prior stunning in 2011, when the Dutch Parliament voted that stunning prior to slaughtering of animals, including the slaughter according to religious rite, is mandatory in the Netherlands. It has been pointed out that religion is not good enough reason to let animals suffer needlessly. The Act, that won most of the Parliament votes, was based on scientific consensus that animals that have been stunned before being slaughtered suffer less than the ones that bleed out fully conscious.

Slaughter according to ritual rite is inhumane and it causes animals unnecessary stress and great suffering, and there is scientific proof that animals suffer much more during slaughter according to ritual rite. Three years ago there was a research study about the pain that animals feel during their slaughter, which led to repeated demands for banning the Jewish and Islamic religious slaughter methods. Dr Craig Johnson and his colleagues from New Zealand's Massey University studied the pain sensation of calves during Jewish and Islamic slaughter methods. During the slaughtering of calves without prior stunning, pain response was noticed for up to two minutes from the throat cutting. Johnson pointed out that this work is "the best proof so far that slaughter according to religious rite is painful." This discovery encouraged new demands for banning the slaughter according to religious rite in Great Britain, inspired by countries like Sweden, where all the animals without exception must be stunned prior to being slaughtered.

Croatia should use its legislation to protect animals and recognise modern scientific findings and political moves of European countries that have numerous religious communities which perform slaughter without prior stunning, and they have abolished or are trying to abolish this extremely inhuman and brutal practice which has no place in civilized world. Therefore by making changes to the Animal Protection Act, the Ministry of Agriculture should completely ban slaughter according to religious rite of the religious communities without prior stunning of the animals, i.e. the provision regarding compulsory stunning before the slaughter should apply to all, without exception.

The proposal from Animal Friends for this change to the Animal Protection Act is from the year 2012, and it is a supplement of the same proposal which Animal Friends presented during the making of the Animal Protection Act in 2006.

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