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Poland court rules ritual slaughter of animals violates constitution

Poland's Constitutional Tribunal [official website] ruled Wednesday that the ritual slaughter of animals violates the Polish Constitution. The court's ruling will bar strictly-followed slaughtering practices by Muslim and Jewish citizens where the animal is not stunned first. The decision conflicts with a 2009 EU law [text, PDF], scheduled to go into effect this January, that regulates slaughtering procedures but makes an exception for religious practices. Animal rights activists who brought the case had insisted that Poland may opt out of the EU law [BBC report], but Poland's Agriculture Minister Stanislaw Kalemba has said that the EU regulation will take precedence, allowing ritual slaughter to continue in Poland.

Animal rights remain a contentious issue around the world, particularly when they clash with religious and cultural tradition. Earlier this month, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) upheld a German injunction preventing the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) from using Holocaust images in an animal rights poster campaign [JURIST report]. The campaign featured pictures of Holocaust victims alongside images of animals kept in mass stocks. In September, the Constitutional Council of France rejected a challenge to the bullfighting exception [JURIST report] contained in the animal cruelty provisions of the country's criminal code. The provisions provide an explicit exception for bullfights held in a region where an uninterrupted local tradition can be shown.

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