20 March 2018 – The Dutch Party for the Animals is going to put forward a new legislative proposal for a general obligation to stun animals before slaughter. In the Netherlands there already is a statutory obligation to stun animals before they are slaughtered but an exception is made for halal and kosher slaughter. The Party for the Animals wants to end that exception. The proposed bill will be subject to a transitional period of five years so that slaughterhouses have the chance to make the adjustments needed. Following these five years, all animals in the Netherlands will be stunned prior to slaughter.
Slaughtering animals without stunning leads to more stress and unacceptable animal suffering. Marianne Thieme, the Party Leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals, therefore submitted a new private member’s bill last Friday to make it a statutory duty to stun all animals slaughtered in the Netherlands.
Almost one hundred years ago, it was laid down by law that animals must be stunned prior to slaughter. An exception was made for ritual slaughter. A scientific consensus emerged in respect of the additional stress and the pain suffered by the animal because it was slaughtered without stunning. Over the past years, many scientific reports were published showing that animals which are slaughtered without stunning experience more stress and pain during the entire process of restraint, when their throat is cut and when they lose consciousness. The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe shared the outcomes of this scientific research and believes that additional animal suffering is unacceptable.
Marianne Thieme: “The freedom of religion ends where the suffering of others -humans and animals- starts. A fundamental right such as the freedom of religion is never absolute and must always be weighed against other (fundamental) rights and substantial interests of society. The protection of animals against avoidable pain and stress is a substantial interest.”
For this reason, slaughter without stunning was already banned in other countries, including in Australia, Norway and Denmark. In 2017, it was also decided to ban slaughter without stunning in Belgium. In New Zealand, prior stunning is already applied on a large scale when ritual slaughter is performed.
In 2011, a large majority of the Dutch Parliament voted in favour of a previous legislative bill submitted by Marianne Thieme to completely ban slaughter without stunning. The bill was then rejected by the Senate.
The intrinsic value of animals is considered by society and by the legislator in all their decisions. The social and political debates are about providing animal welfare as well as the purpose for which animals may be used. In the Netherlands, for example, this led to a ban on using wild animals in circuses (2015), a ban on keeping and breeding minks for the production of fur (2014), and a ban on animal testing for cosmetics and the drastic reduction of the number of species for hobby hunting in the 90s.