Legal battle after New Zealand bans shechita

Legal battle after New Zealand bans shechita

11 Mar, 2011

A government ban on kosher slaughtering was lifted this week after a legal challenge was made by Jewish community leaders in New Zealand.
Lawyers have begun legal proceedings against the Minister of Agriculture last week, seeking a restoration of the right to practice shechita in New Zealand, which has been banned since May.

Justice Denis Clifford, of the High Court in Wellington, confirmed on Monday than an interim agreement had been reached between the Jewish community and the government, until the matter comes to trial next year.

The case will pit the 7,000- strong Jewish community against the Conservative government of John Key, whose mother, Ruth Lazar, was a Jewish refugee who escaped Austria before the Holocaust.

A representative for the plaintiffs, Auckland Hebrew Congregation Trust Board and Wellington Jewish Community Centre, confirmed: "We are pleased to report than an agreement for interim relief from the terms of the present code has been reached in court." The decision to issue legal proceedings follows the New Zealand government's decision not to exempt shechita under the country's commercial slaughter code which came into effect two months ago.

Shechita has been under continual threat in New Zealand since 2001. The country's new animal welfare code states that all animals set for commercial consumption must be stunned prior to slaughter so that they are treated "humanely and in accordance with good practice and scientific knowledge".

This contravenes the laws of Jewish slaughter, which prohibits stunning.
Should the challenge fail, New Zealand's Jewish community will be forced to import kosher meat from abroad.

Shechita UK, which defends the practice in Britain, has been in "regular
contact" with the community in New Zealand. Henry Grunwald, chairman of
Shechita UK, said: "The development of an interim agreement is an important first step in the campaign to secure the long-term safety of shechita in New Zealand.

"Shechita UK has been in regular contact with colleagues there and we will continue to offer any support that we can in advance of the trial next year." Shechita has also been banned in Sweden and Iceland.

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