the ECHR validates its ban in Belgium

the ECHR validates its ban in Belgium

The Flemish and Walloon regions of Belgium are justified in prohibiting the ritual slaughter of animals without prior stunning for the Jewish and Muslim religions, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Tuesday February 13, considering that it there was no violation of freedom of religion in this case.

The Court was seized by Belgian nationals, Muslims and Jews, as well as by associations representing national and provincial authorities of Muslim communities. They were protesting against decrees adopted in 2017 and 2018 by the Flemish and Walloon regions putting an end to the authorization of the ritual slaughter of animals without stunning. The Brussels-Capital region is not concerned and currently remains the only one in Belgium authorizing this practice.

Disputed decrees

The ECHR, which ruled for the first time on this question, first recalls that “the contested decrees were adopted following extensive consultation with representatives of different religious groups, veterinarians as well as animal protection associations”highlights the “considerable efforts” deployed by the authorities “in order to best reconcile the objectives of promoting animal welfare and respect for freedom of religion”.

“Regional legislators sought to weigh the rights and interests involved at the end of a duly considered legislative process”continues the ECHR, judicial arm of the Council of Europe.

A “justified” measure for the ECHR

It concludes that, by adopting the contested decrees prohibiting the slaughter of animals without prior stunning in the Flemish and Walloon regions, the authorities “have taken a measure which is justified in principle and which can be considered proportionate to the aim pursued, namely the protection of animal welfare as an element of “public morality””.

The Court therefore judges that it “there was therefore no violation of Article 9 of the Convention” European Union for the Protection of Human Rights, which protects freedom of religion. The ECHR also considers that the applicants were not victims of discrimination.

Me Patrice Spinosi, lawyer for the Jewish applicants in this case, indicated that he was studying the possibility of appealing the case to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR: “We will be keen to assess the chances of success of a referral of this case to the Grand Chamber, so that this formation, which is the most solemn of the European Court, has the opportunity to rule on a question as important as unpublished »did he declare.

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