An initiative calls for basic rights for primates other than humans. The population in the canton of Basel-Stadt will soon be able to vote on it.
In the Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt, the population will soon be able to decide whether other primates should have basic rights in addition to humans. Specifically, it is about a “right of non-human primates to life and to physical and mental integrity”. Monkeys in particular are meant.
These are “highly intelligent”, it is said to justify the initiative, they “can communicate with people in sign language, are capable of suffering, feel empathy for others and can both remember past events and look into the future”.
All 300 species of primate have a large brain, complex social structures, and a high physical and psychological ability to suffer – which unfortunately also makes them particularly interesting for animal experiments.
The originator of the initiative is the Sentience association. It should be possible to keep monkeys in the zoo, as well as to use them for research purposes. However, the primates should then not have to suffer and otherwise experience “no stress”.
The Basel Parliament, the Grand Council, initially rejected the initiative as inadmissible in 2018. With the argument: such a constitutional amendment at the cantonal level violates Swiss federal law.
The Swiss Federal Supreme Court saw it differently.
Cantons are likely to go beyond the protection guaranteed in the federal constitution. The initiative can therefore be put to a vote.
In Germany, Peta is suing for animal rights
In Germany, too, there is a discussion about the basic rights of animals.
In November last year, the animal welfare organization PETA filed a constitutional complaint on behalf of the piglets, more precisely: for all “male pigs that are neutered without anesthesia”. The aim is to accelerate the abolition of this controversial, but so far common practice, which aims to prevent a strong odor from boar meat.
So the lawsuit goes far beyond the Basel initiative.
On the one hand, PETA does not want to introduce basic rights such as physical integrity for animals through a constitutional amendment but assumes that they already apply today. On the other hand, PETA is not limited to human-like primates.
If pigs, cows, and chickens had the right to life and freedom, meat consumption, animal husbandry, and slaughter would be difficult to justify.
The Federal Constitutional Court has not yet decided on the PETA lawsuit.
The Primate Initiative is not really proving to be revolutionary, but rather an appreciative step – in the right direction.
From a legal point of view, there are no convincing arguments against the constitutional extension of certain basic rights to certain animals.
That would be an expression of central character traits of us humans: brotherhood and humanity.
And I mean…It should be viewed as a criminal injustice to use great apes in medical experiments, to keep them in captivity, to execute them to death, or to destroy their habitat.
The natural home of these animals must be just as worthy of protection as the home of an indigenous people.
Great apes should no longer be property but should be given personal status. As with “underage” such as young children or coma patients who cannot speak for themselves, the legal claims of great apes would have to be represented by trustees.
That is quite feasible.
I think that the historical moment has come to overcome the barrier of “speciesism” after nationalism, racism, and sexism.
Denying animal rights just because “others” do not belong to our species is an expression of speciesism and structurally synonymous with racism or sexism. It is an ethically illegitimate way of thinking and acting.
My best regards to all, Venus