January 17, 2018
Lawsuit against Flanders legislation follows similar action against Walloon legislation last year
BRUSSELS—Yesterday, the Belgian Jewish Community filed a new lawsuit challenging legislation passed last year by the parliament in Flanders banning the kosher slaughter of animals. The lawsuit, supported by The Lawfare Project and submitted today by the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations (CCOJB), the Belgian section of the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress, follows a lawsuit submitted last November against similar legislation passed by the parliament of the Walloon region. The lawsuit is backed by The Lawfare Project, a legal think tank and civil rights litigation fund, which files legal cases against anti-Semitic discrimination around the world.
If the legislation is not annulled before coming into force in 2019 it would ban the production of kosher and halal meat in Belgium. The lawsuit argues that the legislation violates EU law, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Belgian Constitution itself, all of which guarantee freedom of religion. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has previously described kosher slaughter as “an essential aspect of practice of the Jewish religion.”
The Walloon region passed legislation banning kosher and traditional halal methods of slaughter in May. Flanders, where half of Belgium’s Jews live and where the majority of Belgium’s kosher facilities provide meat for Jewish communities in Belgium and beyond, followed suit in July.
In addition to the CCOJB and The Lawfare Project’s previous lawsuit against the Walloon legislation, the Coordinating Council of Islamic Institutions in Belgium also filed a lawsuit alleging that this is an attack on religious freedom.
Now that the CCOJB and The Lawfare Project have submitted lawsuits against both the Walloon and Flanders legislation, the Constitutional Court will have to decide whether to consider both submissions together or separately.
Brooke Goldstein, the Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, which is supporting the lawsuit, said:
“The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has previously described kosher slaughter as ‘an essential aspect of practice of the Jewish religion.’ This lawsuit seeks to uphold this religious freedom in Belgium.”
Yohan Benizri, the President of the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations (CCOJB), who submitted the appeal, said:
“The right to freely practice your faith is a principal in the separation of Church and State. This lawsuit alleges that the Belgium legislation banning kosher slaughter is a violation of that principle.”
Some early press coverage is available at the below links: