QUITO, Ecuador, March 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ —
For the first time, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador has recognized the legal rights of nonhuman animals. The ruling not only elevates the legal status of nonhuman animals under Ecuador’s constitutional rights of nature but also requires that new legislation be drafted to protect the rights of animals.
Constitutional Court of Ecuador Recognizes Animal Rights in Landmark Ruling | Markets Insider (businessinsider.com)
“We hope and expect fundamental legal change for nonhuman animals in the United States isn’t far behind.”
The court’s ruling was the result of a habeas corpus action filed by Ana Beatriz Burbano Proaño on behalf of Estrellita, a woolly monkey who had lived in her home for 18 years. Environmental authorities had forcibly seized the monkey on the grounds that possessing a “wild animal” is prohibited by Ecuador law. Estrellita died within a month of being relocated to a zoo.
Ecuador was the first country to include a rights of nature provision in its national Constitution. When the case came before Ecuador’s Constitutional Court, the judges elected to consider several issues, including: the scope of the country’s rights of nature provision; whether animals qualify as the subject of rights; and whether Estrellita’s rights were violated. The Court found by a vote of seven to two that the scope of the rights of nature includes animals and thus animals are the subject of rights. The Court also indicated that habeas corpus could be an appropriate action for animals and that they may possess rights that derive from other sources in addition to the Constitution.
“This verdict raises animal rights to the level of the constitution, the highest law of Ecuador,” said leading Ecuadorian environmental lawyer Hugo Echeverría, who brought the case to the attention of NhRP. “While rights of nature were enshrined in the constitution, it was not clear prior to this decision whether individual animals could benefit from the rights of nature and be considered rights holders as a part of nature. The Court has stated that animals are subject of rights protected by rights of nature.”
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