People in countries all over the world are working to end the 'thing-hood' of nonhuman animals. And the question of whether they should enjoy legal rights is taking on greater urgency than ever before.
SHIRLEY SHTIEGMAN: ‘Today, all over the planet, nonhuman animals are treated as mere “things” under the law — incapable of possessing even a single right — despite growing scientific evidence of their rich emotional and social lives. And while so many of us share a deep respect and fascination for nonhuman animals, the sad truth is that we humans routinely exploit them in the worst ways and in dizzying numbers, and it remains difficult to defend and protect their interests as courts and legislatures invariably defer to human interests.
The good news: people in countries all over the world are working to end the “thing-hood” of nonhuman animals and finally deliver to them a taste of real justice. Indeed, internationally, the question of whether nonhuman animals should enjoy legal rights is taking on greater urgency than ever before.
In the United States, the movement to secure nonhuman rights is led by the Nonhuman Rights Project under the direction of attorney Steven M. Wise. The NhRP has been working to secure nonhuman rights in the US for over a decade, much of that time spent researching possible legal approaches in every US state and gathering scientific evidence of nonhuman animals’ cognitive and emotional complexity… Progress is being made.
A wonderful example is a recent case from Argentina modeled on the NhRP’s work in the US. In response to a habeas petition filed by an Argentinian organization (AFADA) on behalf of Cecilia the chimpanzee, then held in captivity in the Mendoza Zoo, Judge María Alejandra Mauricio ruled in November 2016 that Cecilia was a “nonhuman legal person” who possesses the right to be free and ordered her transfer to a sanctuary in Brazil where her fundamental legal rights can be respected…
Attorneys from around the world regularly contact the NhRP with an interest in pursuing legal rights for nonhuman animals, and we are always thrilled at the opportunity to work together to help build a worldwide nonhuman rights movement… Here is an overview of this research to date. Note that we set out whether each country is a “common law” country or a “civil law” country. In general, judges in common law jurisdictions have far more flexibility to “make new law,” particularly in the context of habeas corpus (which has long been regarded as the fundamental bulwark against arbitrary deprivations of rights)’. SOURCE…