Ritual slaughter in breach of existing legislation


12 November 2012    

Mara Bizzotto (EFD)



The Feast of Sacrifice is an Islamic festival which falls 70 days after the end of Ramadan, during which a lamb is ritually slaughtered. The animal bleeds to death from a cut to the throat and is not stunned beforehand. Current legislation on slaughtering was updated by Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 of 24 September 2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing. Article 4(1) of this regulation lays down that animals shall only be killed after stunning, whilst Article 4(4) provides for an exemption whilst undertaking religious rites, provided that the slaughter takes place in a slaughterhouse authorised by the State.

On 27 October 2012, police intervened at a farm in Arzignano, Province of Vicenza, to prevent the sale of lambs to Muslims who were buying them with a view to celebrating the ritual of sacrifice, proceeding then to slaughter the animals, not in an authorised slaughterhouse but in their own homes in breach of both EU and Italian regulations.

Is the Commission aware of these events?

Can the Commission confirm whether it is aware of similar events in other Member States and can it estimate how widespread this practice might be, which is in breach of current legislation?

Does the Commission believe it is still right to maintain this exemption for ritual slaughter, given that, despite being included to give the Muslim community the opportunity to carry out its own rituals whilst observing current legislation, it is being breached increasingly often?


Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

14 January 2013    

The Commission confirms that EU legislation does not allow the use of the derogation from stunning animals for ritual slaughter outside slaughterhouses.

The Commission is not aware of the specific event reported but has been occasionally informed in the past that similar events in other Member States occurred. However, the verification of the correct implementation of the EU legislation is primarily under the responsibility of the Member States.

The Commission considers that the exemption to slaughter animals without stunning in the case of animals subject to particular methods of slaughter prescribed by religious rites, reflects Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on the freedom of religion and the right to manifest religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance as stated in Recital 18 of Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing(1).

(1)     OJ L 303, 18.11.2009, p. 1.