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Summary of the "European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter" is available from the UNEP Register of International Treaties and Other Agreements in the Field of the Environment.

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EUROPEAN CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF ANIMALS FOR 
SLAUGHTER

Strasbourg, 10 May 1979

The member States of the Council of Europe, signatory 
hereto,

Considering that it is desirable to ensure the protection of 
animals which are to be slaughtered;

Considering that slaughter methods which as far as possible 
spare animals suffering and pain should be uniformly applied 
in their countries;

Considering that fear, distress, suffering and pain 
inflicted on an animal during slaughter may affect the 
quality of the meat,

Have agreed as follows:


Chapter I

GENERAL PRINCIPLES


Article 1

1. This Convention shall apply to the movement, lairaging, 
restraint, stunning and slaughter of domestic solipeds, 
ruminants, pigs, rabbits and poultry.

2. For the purpose of this Convention:

Slaughterhouse: shall mean any premises under health 
control, intended for the professional slaughter of animals 
to produce meat for consumption or for any other reason;

Moving animals: shall mean unloading or driving them from 
unloading platforms or from stalls or pens at slaughterhouses 
to the premises or place where they are to be slaughtered;

Lairaging: shall mean keeping animals in stalls, pens or 
covered areas at slaughterhouses in order to give them the 
necessary attention (water, fodder, rest) before they are 
slaughtered;

Restraint: shall mean the application to an animal of any 
procedure in conformity with the provisions of this 
Convention designed to restrict its movements in order to 
facilitate stunning or slaughter;

Stunning: shall mean any process in conformity with the 
provisions of this Convention, which when applied to an 
animal induces a state of insensibility which lasts until it 
is dead, thus sparing it in any event any avoidable 
suffering;

Slaughter: shall mean causing the death of an animal after 
restraint, stunning and bleeding with the exceptions provided 
for in Chapter III of this Convention.


Article 2

1. Each Contracting Party shall take the necessary steps to 
ensure the implementation of the provisions of this 
Convention.

2. Nothing in this Convention shall, however, prevent 
Contracting Parties from adopting more stringent rules to 
protect animals.

3. Each Contracting Party shall ensure that the design, 
construction and facilities of slaughterhouses and their 
operation shall be such as to ensure that the appropriate 
conditions provided for in this Convention are complied with 
in order to spare animals any avoidable excitement, pain or 
suffering.

4. For slaughtering outside or inside slaughterhouses each 
Contracting Party shall ensure that the animals are spared 
any avoidable pain or suffering.


Chapter II

DELIVERY OF ANIMALS TO SLAUGHTERHOUSES AND THEIR LAIRAGING 
UNTIL THEY ARE SLAUGHTERED


Article 3

1. Animals shall be unloaded as soon as possible. While 
waiting in the means of transport they shall be protected 
from extremes of weather and provided with adequate 
ventilation.

2. The personnel responsible for moving and lairaging such 
animals shall have the knowledge and skills required and 
shall comply with the requirements set out in this 
Convention.


Section I

THE MOVING OF ANIMALS WITHIN THE PRECINCTS OF 
SLAUGHTERHOUSES


Article 4

1. The animals shall be unloaded and moved with care.

2. Suitable equipment such as bridges, ramps, or gangways, 
shall be used for unloading animals. The equipment shall be 
constructed with flooring which will permit a proper foothold 
and, if necessary, shall be provided with lateral protection. 
Bridges, ramps and gangways shall have the minimum possible 
incline.

3. The animals shall not be frightened or excited. In any 
event care must be taken to ensure that animals are not 
overturned on bridges, ramps or gangways and that they cannot 
fall from them. In particular animals shall not be lifted by 
the head, feet or tail in a manner which will cause them pain 
or suffering.

4. When necessary, animals shall be led individually. 
Corridors along which they are moved must be so designed that 
they cannot injure themselves.


Article 5

1. When animals are moved their gregarious tendencies shall 
be exploited. Instruments shall be used solely to guide them 
and must only be used for short periods. In particular, they 
shall not be struck on, nor shall pressure be applied to, any 
particularly sensitive part of the body. Electric shocks may 
be used for bovine animals and pigs only, provided that the 
shocks last no more than two seconds, are adequately spaced 
out and the animals have room to move; such shocks shall be 
applied only to appropriate muscles.

2. Animals' tails shall not be crushed, twisted or broken and 
their eyes shall not be grasped. Blows and kicks shall not be 
inflicted.

3. Cages, baskets or crates in which animals are transported 
shall be handled with care. They shall not be thrown to the 
ground or knocked over.

4. Animals delivered in cages, baskets or crates with 
flexible or perforated bottoms shall be unloaded with 
particular care in order to avoid injuring the animals' 
extremities. Where appropriate they shall be unloaded 
individually.


Article 6

1. Animals shall not be taken to the place of slaughter 
unless they can be slaughtered immediately.

2. Animals which are not slaughtered immediately on arrival 
shall be lairaged.


Section II

LAIRAGING


Article 7

1. Animals shall be protected from unfavourable climatic 
conditions. Slaughterhouses shall be equipped with a 
sufficient number of stalls and pens for lairaging of the 
animals with protection from the effects of adverse weather.

2. The floor of areas where animals are unloaded, moved, kept 
waiting or temporarily based, shall not be slippery. It shall 
be such that it can be cleaned, disinfected and thoroughly 
drained of liquids.

3. Slaughterhouses shall have covered areas with feeding and 
drinking troughs and arrangements for tying up animals.

4. Animals which must spend the night at the slaughterhouse 
shall be so housed and, when, appropriate, tied up in such a 
way that they may lie down.

5. Animals naturally hostile to each other on account of 
their species, sex, age or origin shall be separated from 
each other.

6. Animals which have been transported in cages, baskets or 
crates shall be slaughtered as soon as possible; otherwise 
they shall be watered and fed in accordance with the 
provisions of Article 8.

7. If animals have been subjected to high temperatures in 
humid weather, they shall be cooled.

8. Where climatic conditions make it necessary (e.g. high 
humidity, low temperatures), animals shall be placed in well-
ventilated accommodation. During foddering the stalls shall 
be adequately lit.


Section III

CARE


Article 8

1. Unless they are conducted as soon as possible to the place 
of slaughter, animals shall be offered water on arrival in 
the slaughterhouse.

2. With the exception of animals to be slaughtered within 
twelve hours of their arrival, they shall subsequently be 
given moderate quantities of food and water at appropriate 
intervals.

3. Where animals are not tied up, feeding receptacles shall 
be provided which will permit the animals to feed 
undisturbed.


Article 9

1. The condition and state of health of the animals shall be 
inspected at least every morning and evening.

2. Sick, weak or injured animals shall be slaughtered 
immediately. If this is not possible, they shall be separated 
in order to be slaughtered as soon as possible.


Section IV

OTHER PROVISIONS


Article 10

In respect of reindeer, each Contracting Party may authorise 
derogations from the provisions of Chapter II of this 
Convention.


Article 11

Each Contracting Party may prescribe that the provisions of 
Chapter II of this Convention shall be applied mutatis 
mutandis to moving and lairaging of animals outside 
slaughterhouses.


Chapter III

SLAUGHTERING


Article 12

Animals shall be restrained where necessary immediately 
before slaughtering and, with the exceptions set out in 
Article 17, shall be stunned by an appropriate method.


Article 13

In the case of the ritual slaughter of animals of the bovine 
species, they shall be restrained before slaughter by 
mechanical means designed to spare them all avoidable pain, 
suffering, agitation, injury or contusions.


Article 14

No means of restraint causing avoidable suffering shall be 
used; animals' hind legs shall not be tied nor shall they be 
suspended before stunning or, in the case of ritual 
slaughter, before the end of bleeding. Poultry and rabbits 
may, however, be suspended for slaughtering provided that 
stunning takes place directly after suspension.


Article 15

Other slaughter operations than those mentioned in Article 
1, paragraph 2 may commence only after the animal's death.


Article 16

1. The stunning methods authorised by each Contracting Party 
shall bring animals into a state of insensibility which lasts 
until they are slaughtered, thus sparing them in any event 
all avoidable suffering.

2. Use of the puntilla, hammer or pole-axe shall he 
prohibited.

3. In the case of solipeds, ruminants and pigs, only the 
following stunning methods shall be permitted:

 mechanical means employing instruments which administer a 
blow or penetrate at the level of the brain;
 electro-narcosis;
 gas anaesthesia.

4. Each Contracting Party may authorise derogations from the 
provisions of paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Article in the case 
of slaughter of an animal at the place where it was reared by 
the producer for his personal consumption.


Article 17

1. Each Contracting Party may authorise derogations from the 
provisions concerning prior stunning in the following cases:

 slaughtering in accordance with religious rituals;
 emergency slaughtering when stunning is not possible;
 slaughtering of poultry and rabbits by authorised methods 
causing instantaneous death;
 killing of animals for the purposes of health control 
where special reasons make this necessary.

2. Each Contracting Party availing itself of the provisions 
of paragraph 1 of this Article shall, however, ensure that at 
the time of such slaughter or killing the animals are spared 
any avoidable pain or suffering.


Article 18

1. Each Contracting Party shall make certain of the skill of 
persons who are professionally engaged in the restraint, 
stunning and slaughter of animals.

2. Each Contracting Party shall ensure that the instruments, 
apparatus or installations necessary for the restraint and 
stunning of animals comply with the requirements of the 
Convention.


Article 19

Each Contracting Party permitting slaughter in accordance 
with religious ritual shall ensure, when it does not itself 
issue the necessary authorisations, that animal sacrificers 
are duly authorised by the religious bodies concerned.


Chapter IV

FINAL PROVISIONS


Article 20

1. This Convention shall be open to signature by the member 
States of the Council of Europe and by the European Economic 
Community. It shall be subject to ratification, acceptance or 
approval. Instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval 
shall be deposited with the Secretary General of the Council 
of Europe.

2. This Convention shall enter into force six months after 
the date of the deposit of the fourth instrument of 
ratification, acceptance or approval by a member State of the 
Council of Europe.

3. In respect of a signatory party ratifying, accepting or 
approving after the date referred to in paragraph 2 of this 
Article, the Convention shall come into force six months 
after the date of the deposit of its instrument of 
ratification, acceptance or approval.


Article 21

1. After the entry into force of this Convention, the 
Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe may, upon 
such terms and conditions as it deems appropriate, invite any 
non-member State to accede thereto.

2. Such accession shall be effected by depositing with the 
Secretary General of the Council of Europe an instrument of 
accession which shall take effect six months after the date 
of its deposit.


Article 22

1. Any State may, at the time of signature or when depositing 
its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or 
accession, specify the territory or territories to which this 
Convention shall apply.

2. Any State may, when depositing its instrument of 
ratification, acceptance, approval or accession or at any 
later date, by declaration addressed to the Secretary General 
of the Council of Europe, extend this Convention to any other 
territory or territories specified in the declaration and for 
whose international relations it is responsible or on whose 
behalf it is authorised to give undertakings.

3. Any declaration made in pursuance of the preceding 
paragraph may, in respect of any territory mentioned in such 
declaration, be withdrawn by means of a notification 
addressed to the Secretary General. Such withdrawal shall 
take effect six months after the date of receipt by the 
Secretary General of such notification.


Article 23

1. Any Contracting Party may, insofar as it is concerned, 
denounce this Convention by means of a notification addressed 
to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

2. Such denunciation shall take effect six months after the 
date of receipt by the Secretary General of such 
notification.


Article 24

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall notify 
the member States of the Council and any Contracting Party 
not a member of the Council of:

(a) any signature;

(b) any deposit of an instrument of ratification, acceptance, 
approval or accession;

(c) any date of entry into force of this Convention in 
accordance with Articles 20 and 21 thereof;

(d) any declaration received in pursuance of the provisions 
of Article 22, paragraph 2;

(e) any notification received in pursuance of the provisions 
of Article 22, paragraph 3;

(f) any notification received in pursuance of the provisions 
of Article 23 and the date on which denunciation takes 
effect.

In witness whereof the undersigned, being duly authorised 
thereto, have signed this Convention.

Done at Strasbourg, this 10th day of May 1979, in English 
and in French, both texts being equally authoritative, in a 
single copy which shall remain deposited in the archives of 
the Council of Europe. The Secretary General of the Council 
of Europe shall transmit certified copies to each of the 
signatory and acceding Parties.