The bans, imposed in both regions several years ago, are the result of long pressure by animal welfare advocates. But they have also raised fears among Muslim and Jewish community groups that they will serve as a cover for nationalist politicians to channel anti-immigrant sentiment. Belgium is holding legislative elections in June, at the same time as elections to the European Parliament.
Ben Weyts, the Flemish minister in charge of animal welfare, said he was satisfied with the verdict: “Now the door is open to a ban on ritual slaughter not only in Brussels but throughout Europe,” he said. said Weyts, of the national conservative party. New Flemish Alliance, declared on VRT television.
Although EU law states that animals can only be slaughtered after stunning and using specific methods, it also provides an exemption for ritual slaughter, provided that the slaughter takes place in an abattoir. However, this does not prevent Member States from imposing a broader obligation to stun animals.
Citing animal welfare concerns, the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in 2017 banned the slaughter of animals without prior stunning, as practiced by practicing Muslims and Jews who eat halal or kosher meat. French-speaking Wallonia followed in 2018.
In a similar case brought by Flemish and Walloon faith groups in 2020, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruled that member countries could ban the practice of ritual slaughter in order to promote animal welfare, without infringing on the rights of religious groups. .
The ECHR, based in Strasbourg, is an international court whose role is to interpret the European Convention on Human Rights – a founding agreement on the protection of human rights and political freedoms – on behalf of the 46 countries members of the Council of Europe. The CJEU is an EU court.