Worldlog Week 26 – 2011

1 juli 2011

What a fantastic week! The Lower House of the Dutch parliament has overwhelmingly adopted (by a 116 to 30 majority) my bill to implement a ban on the slaughter of animals without stunning. During three votes by roll call, it became clear that the majority of the House believes that the unnecessary suffering of animals can no longer be justified because of traditions or religion. Below are some of the reactions in the international press: Financial Times, The New York Times, BBC News

We have demonstrated that there is a moral need to ban the slaughter of animals without stunning given the views of independent scientists and the general social consensus in the Netherlands that animals should not be subjected to any unnecessary suffering. Esther and I have worked hard to get to this point. Three long years, together with many colleagues, and we are proud that we have won over such a large majority of the House!

We view the adoption of this bill as a historic milestone in the fight for animal welfare. Our legislative bill has had a considerable impact on society in the Netherlands. And one thing is certain: animal welfare is now permanently on the political agenda of the Netherlands. The next step is to defend the bill in the Upper House – probably this autumn – something I am certainly looking forward to.

This bill follows decades of discussion and research in which religious organizations were involved from the outset. The discussion had already started in the 1970s and in 1995 the government announced that the religious organizations had to make efforts to reduce ritual slaughter without stunning. These years of discussion and research and the resulting positions taken by, for example, authoritative bodies such as the Royal Netherlands Veterinary Association make it clear that Dutch society’s views on the slaughter of animals without stunning have changed irreversibly.

The ban on slaughter without stunning that this legislative bill seeks to implement is entirely compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The proportionality between the aim and the means is guaranteed in this bill since this type of legislation is the only effective means of achieving the aim of reducing animal suffering. Relying on self-regulation via covenants is not an option exactly because some of the religious parties involved have the firm conviction that stunning is not desirable. This is why legislation is the only suitable measure.

An important point scored by the Party for the Animals is also the much-heard argument that not only should we focus on how animals meet their end but also on the lives they lead thitherto. That is exactly our argument. The lives of animals should be viewed with compassion and not only from an economic perspective.

Congratulations have been arriving from all over the world and I would like to thank everyone for their congratulations and expressions of support! Esther Ouwehand and I felt extremely encouraged by all the support prior to the debate. There was also much attention from the international press. Earlier this week I discussion with Rabbi Jacobs on BBC radio. It’s unfortunate whenever the discussion is again drawn back to the Second World War.

And I end with good news from South Korea. The Korea Dog Farmers’ Association wanted to organize a festival to promote the consumption of dog meat. Fortunately, animal lovers sparked off a massive protest all across the country, causing the festival to be cancelled. How wonderful of all dog lovers in South Korea to protest against this bizarre ‘delicatessen’! Hopefully this will eventually lead to a complete stop to the consumption of dog meat and the terrible dog breeding industry that supplies the it.

Until next week!