Dutch lawmakers against animal slaughter reforms


Plans requiring animals to be stunned before halaal or kosher slaughter received a blow Wednesday after parties in the Dutch parliament’s Upper House said they would give it the thumbs down.

The majority of parties in the 75-seat Senate indicated during a late-night debate they would vote against amended legislation ─ approved by the Dutch Lower House earlier this year ─ that would see a ban on ritual slaughter without stunning being enforced.

“It still needs to be voted on later this month, but it’s unlikely that it will go through,” said Jurjen Bugel, a spokesman for the Upper House, who said a December 20 “no” would stop the proposed amended legislation in its tracks.

He said the majority of parties, including the ruling coalition Freedom and Democracy party (VVD) and Christian Democratic CDA had said it would not support the amendment.

Dutch law required animals to be stunned before slaughter but made an exception for ritual halaal and kosher slaughters.

In June this year, the Dutch Lower House voted in favor of the amendment proposed by the country’s Party for Animals (PvdD), which holds two seats in the 150-seat parliament.

The Senate’s vote however is the final word on the issue.

The plan drew outrage from both the Dutch Muslim and Jewish communities, whose representatives insisted ritual slaughter respected the animals' welfare and that those doing the slaughtering received expert training.

Although the initiative had been given the red light, Dutch authorities would continue to discuss the issue with Jewish and Muslim communities, Coen Gelinck, the spokesman for Agriculture State Secretary Henk Bleker, told AFP.

“Minister Bleker will continue to talk to these communities to see how the suffering of animals during slaughter can be lessened,” he said.

This included new regulations around the amount of cuts to an animal’s throat and the amount of time animals are to be left unconscious.

More than two million animals ─ mainly sheep and chickens ─ are ritually slaughtered in the Netherlands every year, according to the PvdD. Muslim groups dispute the figure, saying it is closer to 250,000.