1 November 2015
Behalal.org Press release
The WATOK Regulation (Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (England) regulation) during the 11th hours were revoked in May of this year but will come into force on Thursday 5th November 2015. The current (1995) regulations, the Welfare of Animals Slaughter or Killing (WASK), will be revoked at the same time. The change will impact on those slaughtering animals.
Slaughter of animals especially without the use of pre-stunning for halal and kosher meat had come under intense attack for compromising welfare and calls were made to ban it and wide spread hysteria was created in the media. However, calls were also made to provide scientific evidence to improve welfare but have not yet been taken into account which promoted our action.
Ahead of the changes, behalal.org wrote to Defra Minister George Eustice on 27th October 2015, seeking that the independent scientific evidence be taken into consideration which would help improve animal welfare especially where slaughter occurs by traditional halal methods.
A subsequent letter was also sent to organisations (RSPCA, British Veterinary Association, Humane Slaughter Association, Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, the Farm Animal Welfare Committee) who advocate animal welfare and in the past some have sought for a ban of traditional halal slaughter i.e. without the use of pre-stunning. We asked them if any action if any action had been taken by them given the scientific evidence to allow more than one animal at a time to enter a V restrainer thereby improving the welfare.
If no changes are made in the legislation or the guidance issued to operators and enforcement staff it would greatly impact the slaughter without the use of pre-stunning by slowing the production and have a knock on effect on the Muslim consumers. We have been told by one of the main producers of lamb & sheep in the UK that this may force them and others to switch to pre-stunning to allow higher production to allow them to compete in the market. Small and medium producers would be impacted the most by the changes.
Our concerns are that if the independent scientific evidence is ignored it will reinforce our fears that objectivity is not being applied that there is a continuation of making traditional halal slaughter more difficult to achieve then the previous attempts to overtly ban it thereby achieving the same outcome.
Awaiting a response to Email sent:
Date: 27 October 2015 at 10:07
Subject: Defra defying Scientific Evidence to protect Animal Welfare at time of slaughter – WATOK Regs – 5th November 2015
Behalal.org is a non political and non profit voluntary organisation set up to safeguard the halal diet. We advocate the safeguarding and improvement of animal welfare. Animal welfare in the Islamic faith is an obligation and part of worship for Muslims to ensure they safeguard welfare from birth until death and therefore it forms a crucial element of halal slaughter.
I write to you as a Minister who has always been a proponent for the protection and improvement of animal welfare.
We are deeply concerned about decisions made by defra in the forth coming WATOK Regulation to be laid on 5th November 2015, to not allow independent scientific research conducted by Bristol University and AHDB that clearly shows that welfare would improve by demonstrating that sequential restraining of lambs in a group is better for welfare
. This evidence relates to slaughter including using non-stun methods. It had been hoped this evidence would have allowed a change in the WATOK regulation.
As you are aware the European Regulation 1099-2009 instructs that new scientific research should be taken into account for methods of restraining, stunning, slaughter, etc. We are concerned that the independent scientific evidence that this Regulation necessitates has not been given consideration by defra and therefore maybe a breach.
We are seeking that the WATOK regulation be drafted by defra to permit sheep to follow each other into the V restrainer without unnecessary handling, in accordance with independent scientific advice to maintain welfare.
Lastly, if you do not allow this amendment defra effectively will not only be forcing producers to cause distress by compromising welfare at slaughter especially during non stun slaughter, they shall be acting against the Religious Rights/Freedoms and protection to slaughter animals in accordance set within the Islamic faith an obligation to safeguard welfare. Furthermore, defra will greatly disadvantage non stun producers by effectively slowing the speed of production which will have a negative economic market effect and importantly for Muslim consumers as they may have less available non stun halal meat available to them which affects their religious freedom to practise their faith.
We look forward to a resolve to this issue that demonstrates that defra is indeed a neutral government organisation that objectively makes decisions than a draconian approach to an important piece of legislation that will have a dire consequence for the welfare of animals and followers of faith groups like Muslims who are seeking meat from non stunned animals especially in light of scientific evidence.
I look forward to your response to the raised issues above.
Letter also published LondonBangla.com in http://londonbangla.com/2015/11/01/be-halal-lobbies-defra-on-halal-and-welfare/