Poland plans protection for shechita in law

By Nissan Tzur, May 2, 2013

Poland is a step closer to enshrining the ritual slaughter of animals in law.

The Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, announced last week that his government had submitted a draft of new regulations that will allow kosher and halal slaughter, while reducing the suffering of the animals.

“The government will present parliament with the proper modifications. One of them may be to eliminate the use of rotating cages before the slaughter of the animals. Our proposal will systematically reduce the suffering of animals,” said Mr Tusk.

He added that the government’s proposed legislation was motivated by economics. Poland is one of the biggest exporters of kosher meat in Europe.

The Polish parliament is scheduled to vote on the new legislation in the next few weeks.

Last November, the Polish Constitutional Court ruled that the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning was unconstitutional.

The decision came after an appeal by animal rights activists who claimed that the decision by the Ministry of Agriculture to exempt Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter from animal welfare laws contradicted the constitution.

Shortly after the court’s decision, Poland’s Agriculture Minister Stanislaw Kalemba announced a plan to amend the law to permit the continuation of ritual slaughter.

The court’s decision caused a severe shortage of kosher meat in Poland and the Jewish community lobbied the government to reverse the decision.

The Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, praised the move, saying: “It is great news for Poland’s Jews and a very important step towards the end of the conflict.”

The EU has passed a series of laws regulating kosher slaughter, but allowed each country to decide whether to adopt the laws or come up with their own legislation.

Last updated: 4:45pm, May 2 2013