Views from the Board
Supporting the Community

Statement on Shechita in the Netherlands

Deputies will have heard recent misleading reports about the situation regarding Shechita in the Netherlands which, while very encouraging, is not as clear cut as it has been portrayed.  

Press reports and statements from some communal organisations may have given the impression that the challenges facing Shechita have been completely resolved, which is not the case.  For clarity, the following summarizes events to date and the current status of the issue.

A Bill was introduced in the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament which would have removed the exemption on religious grounds from pre-stunning before animal slaughter.  The Bill was duly accepted by the Lower House and then proceeded to the Senate (Upper House) for ratification.

The Senate considers legislation on the basis of whether or not it accords with the country’s constitution, rather than on the particular merits of a piece of legislation.  A debate in the Senate which preceded a vote on the Bill revealed that the Dutch Government and a significant number of members of the Upper House were not in favour of the Bill in its current form and that if the vote proceeded, the Bill would fail.  The Senate vote was therefore postponed until 13 or 17 January 2012.

This was an extremely positive development and very much to the credit of the Dutch Jewish community and those, including Shechita UK, who assisted them.

It is important to note that the Bill has not yet been withdrawn and the expectation is that the Dutch Government will propose compromise amendments.  It is not clear at this stage what these will entail or whether they will be wholly acceptable to the Jewish community.  Clearly there is a risk that they will not be but with our colleagues at Shechita UK, who are working with the Dutch Community, we will be vigilant and will assist in any required response. We will of course keep you informed as matters develop.