Landmark rulingTuesday, December 23, 2014
After legal rights for orangutan, lawyers vow to fight cruelty
Days after a court ruled that an orangutan that has lived 20 years at the Buenos Aires zoo is entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by humans, the head of the Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights (Afada) Pablo Buompadre called for an investigation into animal cruetly in the country.
“We believe incarceration and animal cruelty are not fair. We ask that it be investigated, but so far we have obtained an unprecedented ruling,” Buompadre told state-run news agency Télam.
The ruling came a month after a local animal rights group filed a habeas corpus writ in favor of Sandra, who was born in Germany but has lived in captivity in Buenos Aires most of her life.
“Following a dynamic... judicial interpretation, it is necessary to recognize that the animal is subject to rights, and should be protected,” said the December 18 ruling, published Monday.
Andrés Gil Dominguez, who represented the orangutan, said the “unprecedented” ruling paves the way for the habeas corpus rights to be accepted by the courts and for Sandra to be released at a sanctuary.
“It sets a precedent that changes the paradigm of animal guardianship and will impact their rights... It will lead to a lot of discussions,” Gil Dominguez said. “From this ruling forward ... the discussion will be whether captivity in itself damages their rights.”
Yesterday, Buompadre played down initial expectations following the decision.
“These processes take time, we need to carry out medical examinations to see if she can endure the trip” that brings Sandra to the sanctuary, the head of Afada said.
This is hardly the first case in Argentina to recognize animal rights. Cock fighting, for example, has been declared illegal and there are specific rules against animal abuse, as well as regulation on working animals.
Earlier this month, a New York appeals court ruled that a chimpanzee is not entitled to the rights of a human and does not have to be freed by its owner. The three-judge Appellate Division panel was unanimous in denying “legal personhood” to Tommy, who lives alone in a cage in upstate Fulton County.
A trial-level court had previously denied the Nonhuman Rights Project’s effort to have Tommy released. The group’s lawyer, Steven Wise, told the appeals court in October that the chimp’s living conditions are akin to a person in unlawful solitary confinement.
Wise argued that animals with human qualities, such as chimps, deserve basic rights, including freedom from imprisonment. He has also sought the release of three other chimps in New York and said he plans similar cases in other states. But the mid-level appeals court said there is neither precedent nor legal basis for treating animals as persons.
Herald with Télam, AP