Using examples of ritual slaughter recognized by different religions in Africa, this paper examines the regulated and unregulated exercise of the right to ritual slaughter as a manifestation of the right to freedom of religion in three constitutional traditions in Africa.
This article commences with an evaluation of the existence of the right to ritual slaughter either as a freestanding right or a derivative right from the right to freedom of religion in the bills of rights of African constitutions. The article argues that the ritual slaughter at this stage of constitutional development in Africa is at best a derivative right partly anchored on the communal dimensions of the right to freedom of religion. The article closely examines the bearers and content of the right to ritual slaughter through a brief overview of the practices of ritual slaughter recognized by African traditional religion and Islam. In addition, the syncretic nature of religious practice in Africa identified as the multiple or concurrent witness to different faiths is also considered to provide a realistic account of ritual slaughter in Africa.
Since the right to ritual slaughter is identified as a derivative right from the right to freedom of religion, the article examines different constitutional traditions in Africa to determine how religion is conceived in constitutional governance that in turn affects the feasibility of the right to ritual slaughter within constitutional designs and capacity of other public interests such as animal welfare to limit the exercise of the right to ritual slaughter.
Three constitutional designs of the role of religion in constitutional governance are identified in this regard. The article concludes on a number of points, including the recognition of the importance of the articulation of the human rights that underpin animal welfare concerns and the fact that a regulated right to ritual slaughter appears feasible in a number of African countries.