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Polish court finds ban on ritual slaughter 'unconstitutional'

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 10.12.2014 13:31
Poland’s Constitutional Court has overturned an earlier ban on the ritual slaughter of animals saying it was not in line with the country’s constitution.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin General Director of the European Jewish Association at Poland's Constitutional Court on Wednesday. Photo: PAP/Jakub Kaminski

Wednesday's ruling was made in relation to a complaint lodged by Poland's Union of Jewish Religious Communities (ZGWZ) in August 2013.

“The constitution guarantees the freedom of religion which includes the carrying out of all activities, practices, rites and rituals which have a religious character,” said Judge Maria Gintowt-Jankowicz in her final verdict.

“The same constitutional protection also extends to religious activities which differ from conventional behavior which prevails in the country - including activities that are perhaps unpopular among the majority of society.”

Slaughter of animals without prior stunning was made illegal from 1 January 2013.

Animal rights activists had lobbied for the matter to be taken to Poland's Constitutional Court, which duly ruled that the practice was illegal.

Former prime minister Donald Tusk sought to reverse the ruling in July 2013, with his government supporting an amendment that would have allowed for the slaughter of animals without prior stunning, if carried out for religious reasons.

However, besides lack of support from opposition parties, Tusk's own Civic Platform party was divided over the issue, and a majority of 278 MPs voted against the amendment, with 178 voting for it.

According to the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, the ban not only violated the country’s constitution but also the European Convention on Human Rights, as it lead to “discrimination in social and economic life of Jews in Poland.”

Following Wednesday's ruling, no fines will be meted out to anyone practising the slaughter of animals without first stunning them, provided the killings are carried out for religious purposes, as befitting the needs of the country's Jewish and Muslim communities. (rg)

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