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Monday, September 2, 2013

Polish Jews turn to court over ban on kosher slaughter

Representatives of Poland’s Jewish communities have petitioned the Polish constitutional court to reverse a ban on kosher and halal slaughter methods.

A statement released Friday by the Union of Jewish Religious Communities said the petition concerned “a collision of two laws,” a reference to two laws passed in 1997, one permitting ritual slaughter and the other prohibiting it.

“After the rejection by parliament on 12 July of the government’s draft amendment to the law on the protection of animals… the legal situation of the Jewish community, whose duty is among others overseeing the supply of kosher food and ritual slaughter, became unclear,” the statement read.

The two laws cited in the union’s petition are the 1997 Act on the Relation of the State to the Jewish Communities in Poland, which states that ritual slaughter may be performed in accordance with the needs of the local Jewish community, and Article 34 of the 1997 Law on the Protection of Animals, which states that “vertebrate animal in a slaughterhouse may be killed only after being knocked unconscious by qualified personnel.”

In July, lawmakers voted down a draft amendment to the law on animal protection that would have allowed for the slaughter of animals without prior stunning, as required by Jewish and Muslim law, if carried out so as to follow religious customs.

Poland’s Union of Muslims will also be filing a separate application to the court, according to a report Friday by Polskie Radio.

Around 80 Polish firms, mainly selling kosher and halal products abroad, will take part in an independent lawsuit against the state, seeking financial compensation for losses incurred during the ban, the radio station reported.

Slaughter without prior stunning was made illegal in Poland as of January, following a ruling in November by the constitutional court on a petition by animal rights activists.

In its ruling, the constitutional court said the government had no constitutional right to pass a regulation in 2004 which legalized ritual slaughter.

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