Ecuador becomes first country to recognize legal animal rights | Earth.Org – Past | Present


Ecuador’s Constitutional Court officially recognizes the legal rights of animals in the country in a case involving a former wild pet monkey that was seized by authorities.

In a world first, Ecuador has recognized the legal rights of wild animals in a historic Constitutional Court decision, which will see the creation of new legislation to protect their animal rights.

The decision came after a woolly monkey named Estrellita who forcibly left her home, where she was kept as a pet for 18 years after being taken from the wild when she was one month old. Environmental authorities seized the monkey in 2019 on the grounds that owning a “wild animal” is prohibited by Ecuadorian law and was transferred to a zoo. Estrellita died a week after the move.

The owner, librarian Ana Beatriz Burbano Proaño filed a lawsuit and in December 2021 the court ruled in her favor, stating that the animal’s rights had been flouted by the government after being forcibly removed. However, in the same case, the constitutional court found that the rights of the animal were also violated by the original owner when he was removed from his natural habitat, especially at such a young age.

In 2008, Ecuador was the first country to recognize the rights of nature in its national constitution, enshrining the right of its people to live in a healthy environment – a decision that Italy has recently similarly replicated in doing protecting the environment is part of its constitution. Last December, the Constitutional Court applied the rights of nature to ban mining in the protected forest of Los Cedros.

When the Estrellita case was brought before the Constitutional Court of Ecuador, the judges looked at several issues, including: the scope of the country’s provision on the rights of nature; whether animals can be considered subjects of rights; and whether the scope of the rights of nature includes animals. Ultimately, the judges ruled that the animals’ legal status should be within the country’s constitutional nature rights, establishing the country’s legal animal rights.

“This verdict elevates animal rights to the level of the constitution, Ecuador’s highest law,” said leading Ecuadorian environmental lawyer Hugo Echeverría. “While the rights of nature were enshrined in the constitution, it was unclear prior to this ruling whether individual animals could benefit from the rights of nature and be considered rights holders as part of nature. Court said that animals are subject to [the] rights protected by [the] rights of nature”.

The court also noted that “wildlife species and their individuals have the right not to be hunted, fished, captured, collected, extracted, preserved, preserved, trafficked, traded or traded.” Relevant government entities must now create protocols to secure the rights of nonhuman animals under the Rights of Nature.

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Image selected by: Gregoire Dubois/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


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