Parliamentary Question- Religious Slaughters in Greece
To: The Minister of Rural Development and Food
SUBJECT: Modernization of the institutional framework for religious slaughters in Greece in the context of EU regulations and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
The Legal Council of State considered that it is in accordance with the current Greek Law to perform religious slaughters (such as halal and kosher), without anaesthesia.
The expert opinion 92/2017 was issued following a relevant question from the Ministry of Rural Development and Food.
As pointed out in the opinion, the provision of Article 2 Par. 2 of Law 1197/1981 which stipulates the prohibition of killing mammals without anaesthesia in slaughterhouses, cannot be applied, because there is a stricter national provision, according to Article 26 Par. 1 of Regulation 1099/2009, in the special case of religious slaughter which is provided by the provision of Article 4 Par. 4 thereof.
According to this provision, animals subjected to special methods of slaughter provided by cults are excluded from the rule of anaesthesia, provided that the slaughter is carried out in a slaughterhouse and that the requirements of Article 15 of the same regulation for handling and immobilization of animals in the slaughterhouse, are met.
According to the Legal Council of State (Section VI), this provision of the Rules of Procedure respects, the principle of proportionality and balance between the Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on animal welfare requirements and the Article 9 of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), as well as the Article 10 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights about the Free Expression of one’s Religion or Belief in worship, in the exercise of religious duties and ceremonies.
At the same time, Greece in Annex B of the Presidential Decree 327/1996 has enacted provisions that allow religious slaughter without anaesthesia.
The issue concerns Muslims and Jews who, in accordance with their religious practices, do not eat meat that is not certified as Halal and Kosher respectively.
Moreover, any contrary legal provision jeopardizes the right to religious freedom of minorities, for whom religious rites are a key feature of their religious traditions, practices and identity.
In this regard, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had previously accepted that eating meat taken in accordance with the requirements of religious customs is an element of freedom of conscience and religion. This freedom would be restricted if the prohibition of ritual slaughter made it impossible for a religious group to eat meat from slaughtered animals according to its expectations.
In addition, if Greece does not modernize and update its legal framework on this issue, risks once again, being left out of international competition in the meat market, especially at a time when trade opportunities open for exports to the Arab world and other countries that consume meat with Halal and Kosher certification as a product of religious slaughter.
At the same time, Greece is a country hosting tourists of a high economic level (rich tourists) from Arab and Muslim countries, which means that the possibility of not offering them meat as a product of religious slaughter will be a major blow in this area as well.
Also, meat companies all over Greece and people with excellent business acumen have invested money in facilities, licenses and certifications (an extremely time-consuming and costly process) in order to carry out religious slaughter. It is really questionable whether we have the luxury as a coordinated state to undermine this business activity in our country.
It is obvious that our European partners, having followed the European legislation, have regulated this framework based on the rules of hygiene, and they export meat to Arab countries, contributing to the development of trade relations and the trade balance of their countries.
Following these, it becomes necessary to amend Article 2 of Law 1198/1981 on “Special methods of slaughtering animals due to cult types”.
Because of the fact that the Presidential Decree 327/1996, not only did not introduce a provision prohibiting the slaughter of cult types based on article 26 of Regulation 1099/2009, but clearly provided a special framework of administrative control and sanctions for cases of religious slaughterhouses in Law 4235/2014 (A ’32),
Because religious slaughter (actually carried out without anaesthesia) is explicitly accepted in the 5th clause of the 2nd paragraph of the above-mentioned Law (the section on the protection of animals),
Because as it derives from the same article, the only restriction that is recognized, is for the religious slaughter to take place inside a slaughterhouse, exactly as provided by Regulation 1099/2009, Because since 1996, with the Presidential Decree 327/1996, as confirmed in 2014 by Law 4235/2014, there is already an institutional framework for religious slaughters in Greece,
Because, there is the expert opinion No. 92/2017 of the Legal Council of State, that has been issued regarding the above, and according to which it is possible to perform religious slaughters without anaesthesia based on the existing national law,
Because already in 2017, the ministerial decision No. 951/44337/2017 that has been issued by the Minister and the Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Food, set stricter national rules for slaughter in the context of cult types,
Because of that Decision, as well as the subsequent amendment of it in 2018 (292/46122 / 26.3.2018), which had come to regulate the framework of religious slaughters, in order this practice not to be uncontrollable, and in order to observe the rules of hygiene and at the same time to take into account the protection of animals and the religious beliefs of a portion of the population. They applied European legislation and specifically Regulation 1099/2009.
We ask you:
Do you intend to amend Article 2 of Law 1197/1981 clause 3, so that “for land animals subjected to special slaughter methods stated by cult types, which do not allow anaesthesia before slaughter, so that the requirements of paragraph 2 hereof shall not apply, provided that the slaughter is carried out in a slaughterhouse, in accordance with paragraph 4 of Article 4 of Regulation (EC) 1099/2009?”?
The obsession with a legal framework that essentially leads to a ban on religious slaughters in our country, does not actually lead in practice, to a circumvention of the concept of religious freedom of minorities for whom religious rites are a key feature of their religious traditions, practices and identity?
In any case, the obvious fact that is questioned here, is that the community legislation of 2009 takes precedence over the national legislation of 1981?
Can the Greek state impose bans on its citizens who are arbitrarily judged as non-animal lovers by the fact that they only want to follow the standards set by their religion in eating meat?
The questioning Member
MP for Rodopi – KINAL