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Legal frame of the ritual slaughter

French law rules that stunning prior to slaughter is compulsory (Decree of 12 December 1997). An exception to this principle is provided, nevertheless, for ritual slaughter, when stunning is not compatible with religious prescriptions (Article R. 214-70, Code rural et de la pêche maritime). The Council of State has ruled on 5 July 2013, that granting these stipulations does not infringe the principle of secularism, which imposes that the Republic guarantees the freedom of worship (CE, July 5, 2013, No. 361441, Œuvre d’assistance aux bêtes d’abattoirs).
However, this exemption is legally organised, and ritual slaughter must comply with regulations concerning slaughterers and slaughterhouses. Ritual slaughter can only be performed in slaughterhouses authorised by the prefect and following obligations which mostly means a suitable equipement, a trained staff and meeting specific hygiene requirements (Article R. 214-70, Code rural et de la pêche maritime).
Slaughtering is forbidden outside slaughterhouses (Article R. 214-73 du Code rural et de la pêche maritime). However, the significant increase in the number of animals slaughtered at the time of Eid el Kebir renders the number of slaughterhouses insufficient. Provisional slaughterhouses are then established upon prefectorial authorisation (see the circulaire du ministère de l’Intérieur et de l’Agriculture relative à la célébration de la fête religieuse musulmane de l’Aïd al Adha du 5 août 2015).
Ritual slaughter can only be performed by "slaughterers authorised by the religious institutions approved, upon proposition of the Ministry of Interior, by the Minister of Agriculture" (Article 214-75). The Grande Mosquée de Paris, in 1994, the Mosque of Evry and the Grand Mosque of Lyon, in 1996, have been approved by ministerial ruling. This procedure of ministerial approval was a the hear of the Cha’are Shalom Ve Tsedek case: a Jewish association was denied this approval, which was granted to the Association consistoriale israélite de Paris. The European Court of Human Rights confirmed the ministerial refusal (Cha’are Shalom Ve Tsedek c. France, 27 Juin 2000, no. 27417/95).
Since 2012, in agreement with the European regulation (CE) n°1099/2009 on animal protection at the time of killing, any person performing animal slaughter, including ritual slaughterers, must undertake a training course and obtain the certificate of competency concerning the protection of animals at the time of slaughter (Arrêté du 31 juillet 2012).

This European regulation, which came into force in 2013 on national territory, has the main objective of protecting the welfare of animals. Its Article 4§4 nevertheless provides for the possibility of derogating from the prior stunning of animals undergoing slaughter methods prescribed by religious rites. In recent years, the Court of Justice of the European Union has handed down several decisions concerning this derogation (See in particular: F. Curtit, "Bien-être animal et abattage rituel en droit de l’Union européenne : une difficile conciliation", Revue de droit des religions, 12, 2021).

D 29 March 2023    AAnne Fornerod AAnne-Laure Zwilling ALauren Bakir

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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