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Abattage rituel

In Italy, ill-treatment of animals has been punished since the first half of the last century. In this sense, the first legal act explicitly regulating slaughter was the 1927 Royal decree No. 1586, even though no mention was made of religious slaughter. According to Article 9 of this decree, the slaughter of animals had to be carried out in such a way as to cause death as fast as possible. This act was repealed only one year later by the 1928 decree (No. 3298) concerning the rules for sanitary supervision of meat, which reproduced Article 9 of the 1927 decree and added a new provision, according to which religious slaughter had to be carried out in compliance with the rules established by the respective religious rules. The possibility for religious communities to perform ritual slaughter according to their own precepts was later confirmed by the 1978 law (No. 439), which implemented the European Community Directive 74/577/CE on the stunning of animals before slaughter. Article 4 of the directive stipulated that national provisions concerning methods of slaughter according to certain religious rules were not prejudiced. Thus, stunning before slaughter was not made a compulsory requirement in religious slaughter. Likewise, the 1985 Italian law (No. 623) implemented the European Council’s Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter of 10 May 1979, and the legislative decree No. 333 of 1 September 1998 implemented the new Directive of the Council of the European Communities 93/119/EC of 22 December 1993 on the Protection of Animals at the Time of Slaughter. These European acts did not prejudice the legal possibility granted to Italian religious communities to perform slaughter according to their own religious precepts and practices. As a matter of fact, both the 1979 Convention and the 1993 Directive, while making the stunning of animals before slaughter a compulsory requirement, allowed national authorities to grant derogations from this rule in certain cases, including the case of religious slaughter.
On the basis of those rules, slaughter without previous stunning carried out according to the Jewish and Islamic rites by the respective communities is authorised in Italy : qualified persons, who have the knowledge of ritual methods, must carry it out. The slaughter operation shall be performed with a very sharp knife in such a way as to cut at the same time the oesophagus, the trachea and the neck’s big blood vessels with one only incision. During slaughter, all precautions must be adopted in order to avoid as far as possible any unnecessary suffering or state of excitement. For this purpose, animals must be moved to the slaughter room only when all preparations have been completed. The preparation and jugulation of animals must be carried out immediately. Slaughter without previous stunning according to the Islamic rite may be carried out in slaughterhouses that have been authorised to export meat according to Article 7 of the Decree of the President of the Republic No. 264 of 11 February 1961, provided that : the owners of such slaughterhouses shall make a formal request, for the purpose of export to Islamic countries, to the Ministry of Health who, upon inspection, shall certify that the conditions required to slaughter animals are met.
Slaughter carried out according to the Jewish rite continues to be regulated by the Ministerial Decree of 11 June 1980, published in the Official Gazette No. 168 of 20 June 1980. The Decree shall apply to the movement, lairaging, restraint, stunning, slaughter and killing of animals bred and kept for the production of meat, skin, fur or other products and to methods of killing animals for the purposes of preventive treatment and fight against infectious and diffusive diseases.
Without prejudice to the provisions in force against ill-treatment of animals, the Decree shall not apply to a) technical or scientific experiments relating to the procedures mentioned in paragraph 1, carried out under the supervision of the competent authority ; b) animals which are killed in cultural or sports events ; c) wild game killed in accordance with Article 3 of the Decree of the President of the Republic No. 607 of 17 October 1996 and subsequent amendments. For the purposes of the mentioned legislation, the following definitions shall apply :
- slaughterhouse : any premises or facilities, including facilities for moving and lairaging animals, used for the commercial slaughter of animals referred to in Article 5 § 1 ;
- restraint : the application to an animal of any procedure designed to restrict its movements in order to facilitate effective stunning or killing ;
- stunning : any process which, when applied to an animal, causes immediate loss of consciousness which lasts until death ;
- killing : any process which causes the death of an animal ;
- slaughter : causing the death of an animal by bleeding ;
- competent authority : the Minister of Health, the veterinary service of the region or autonomous province, the official veterinarian as defined in Article 2, paragraph 1, letter g) of the Legislative Decree No. 286 of 18 April 1994 and subsequent amendments.

D 16 février 2021    AFrancesco Alicino ASimona Attollino

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