Ritual slaughter ban meets resistance

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Animal Rights Party leader Marianne Thieme’s plan to introduce a ban on ritual slaughter has met resistance in the Senate, the upper house of the Dutch parliament. Ms Thieme was defending her bill in the Senate today.

The party leader wants to ban the ritual slaughter of animals because they are not stunned before they are killed and therefore experience extra stress and pain. The bill was passed with a large majority in the lower house in June, but in the Senate only the Animal Rights Party, the Freedom Party, the 50PLUS party and the Independent Senators bloc openly back the bill. Other parties Socialist Party, Green Left want more information before they decide. The debate is expected to continue into the night and a vote will probably take place next Tuesday.

VVD senator Sybe Schaap has already made up his mind. He sees nothing in the idea and called on Ms Thieme to withdraw the bill. He says she should review her draft legislation.

The Labour Party, D66 democrats, Christian Democrats and the orthodox Christian SGP party are also critical. They want to know whether animal suffering would be sufficiently reduced to warrant a limitation of religious freedom. At the moment, ritual slaughter is permitted by way of a legal exception.

Many Senators think it would be better to improve animal welfare during their lives. They say Ms Thieme should focus on large scale, industrial slaughter. They think the bill is merely token legislation, arguing that kosher Jewish and halal Muslim meat will simply be imported from abroad.

Senators also criticised the legislation because it states that if slaughterhouses can prove that animals do not undergo extra suffering they may be exempted from the ban. The Senators say this is a reversal of the burden of proof and therefore a dead letter.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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