Abattoirs to sue over Polish shechita law

By Nissan Tzur, August 1, 2013
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Over 80 slaughterhouses, meat plants and animal breeders are to sue the Polish government for loss of business, two weeks after parliament voted not to protect shechita in law.

The companies are seeking compensation for loss of future profits and on supply contracts that have already been signed. Poland’s revenue from kosher and halal meat exports has been estimated at 500 million euros per year.

Jerzy Rej, of the Polish meat producers association, explained why the state should compensate the industry in a radio interview: “It’s not just about lost profits but also the penalties that have to be paid, for example for contracts in Israel that are concluded on delivery. If the supplier does not fulfil a contract, he has to pay.”

On July 12, the Polish parliament rejected a government-backed bill to re-legalise kosher and halal ritual slaughter. Poland’s constitutional court banned ritual slaughter in November last year following protests by animal rights groups over slaughter taking place without pre-stunning.

It’s not just about lost profits, but also the penalties that have to be paid over dropped contacts

Following a protest from Jewish and Muslim groups worldwide, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk appointed the Minister of Administration and Digitisation, Michal Boni, to try to reach a solution.

Marek Suski, a member of the Law and Justice party, voted against the continuation of ritual slaughter.

He said: “First of all, the EU regulations state that we are not allowed to worsen the well-being of animals or the methods of slaughtering them.

“In any event… the regulation allowing ritual slaughter is unconstitutional. Poland must be a civilised country where animals are not tormented.”

Marcin Swie-cicki, an MP for the ruling party, Civic Platform, said: “There is such a small difference between ritual and non-ritual slaughter. I decided to vote in favour of ritual slaughter to avoid conflicts with the religious minorities in Poland. This was also the position of the government… We are now waiting for the answer of the Supreme Court.”

l In a further development, the Times of Israel has reported that the Brussels-based European Jewish Association has hired Roman Giertych, a former chair of the far-right Polish party League of Polish Families, to head a legal challenge to the shechita ban.

A spokesman for the European Jewish Congress called the Giertych appointment “ill-advised” and “misconceived.”

Last updated: 5:45pm, August 1 2013