Slovenia, Estonia announce new shechitah restrictions
Slovenia’s National Assembly is set to vote on a proposed ban on all ritual slaughter, which the European Union member country’s government recently submitted for approval.
Estonia, meanwhile, has reportedly imposed new restrictions on its already stringent slaughter policy.
Dr. Igor Vojtic, a member of the executive board of Slovenia's Jewish community, told JTA that the proposed ban came in animal welfare amendments which the government adopted last month.
Vojtic said it was not certain that the amendments would pass the national assembly vote, which is expected to take place within six weeks to eight weeks.
The amendments state that animals may not undergo slaughter unless they are previously stunned. Both Islamic and Jewish law require animals to be conscious when their necks are cut.
The Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture has not replied to a letter from the Brussels-based European Jewish Parliament, which called the amendments a danger to freedom of worship in Slovenia, Vojtic said.
According to the Slovenian news site 24ur, the Association of Islamic communities of Slovenia also has protested against the proposed amendment.
Slovenia, which entered the European Union in 2004, has a Jewish population of 400, according to the European Jewish Congress. According to the CIA World Factbook, 2.5 percent of Slovenia’s population of two million people is Muslim.
In Estonia, the Ministry of Agriculture has reportedly limited all ritual slaughter to licensed slaughterhouses, in a package of amendments to the Estonian Animal Welfare Act, according to the country’s public broadcasting company, ERR.
Even before the amendments, Estonia's policy on ritual slaughter was among the European Union’s strictest. Authorities must be notified 10 work days ahead of each planned slaughter and a government inspector oversees each procedure. The animals are stunned after their throats are cut — a procedure known as post-cut stunning, which not all rabbis permit.
In August, the Conference of European Rabbis said that kosher slaughter could come under further attack this year in Europe.
CER President Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt explained that E.U. member countries are required to replace domestic laws on religious slaughter by January 2013 with European Regulation 1099, a set of new regulations meant to ensure animals do not experience “unnecessary suffering” at or near the time of the slaughter.
While the regulations allow exception for religious slaughter, they also allow “a certain level of subsidiarity,” or discretion, to each member state.
In 2011, the Dutch parliament voted in favor of a total ban on the slaughter of animals without stunning, but the Dutch Senate scrapped the ban in May 2012.