Slaughter without stunning: European Court of Human Rights upholds Flemish and Walloon bans

Brussels, February 13th — The European Court of Human Rights handed down a ruling validating the Walloon and Flemish bans on slaughter without stunning. This decision echoes those handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Belgian Constitutional Court, which maintain that the ban on slaughter without stunning pursues a legitimate objective: ensuring animal welfare. GAIA welcomes the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights and now intends to put pressure on the Brussels-Capital Region to finally comply with the decisions of the various courts.

In its judgment, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled that there had been no violation of the right to freedom of religion and no violation of the prohibition on discrimination.

For GAIA, the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights is therefore excellent news, as it confirms that the Flemish and Walloon bans do not constitute an illegitimate obstacle to freedom of religion. 

For Michel Vandenbosch, President of GAIA: "This is one of the happiest days of my life as an animal activist. This decision confirms that the fight for greater respect for animals is legitimate. It now fully paves the way for a ban in the Brussels Region, the only region in the country to allow this practice."

GAIA calls on the Brussels-Capital Region to comply with the various court rulings and finally ban slaughter without stunning, in the sole interest of the animals.

In Flanders, the ban on slaughter without stunning came into force in January 2019. In Wallonia, a similar ban has been in force since September 2019. Only the Brussels region continues to allow the practice. As a result, hundreds of animals are still slaughtered consciously every day in Anderlecht's slaughterhouses. What's more, several thousand sheep suffer the same fate every year on the Feast of the Sacrifice.

Slaughter without stunning exposes animals to severe and prolonged suffering, in some cases lasting up to 12 minutes. All Belgian and European veterinary associations are unanimous on this point, and consider slaughter without stunning to be unacceptable in terms of animal welfare.

More information:

Michel Vandenbosch, GAIA President: 0475 45 20 15
Ann De Greef, GAIA Director: 0477 53 42 02






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About GAIA

GAIA – Global Action in the Interest of Animals – unites supporters for animal welfare and animal rights in Belgium since 1992. With over 80.000 affiliated members, GAIA denounces animal cruelty and abuse including thorough investigations, and active and peaceful campaigning.


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