Ecuador’s high court rules that wild animals have legal rights

Ecuador’s high court rules that wild animals have legal rights

Inside Climate News reports:

Wild animals possess distinct legal rights, including to exist, to develop their innate instincts and to be free from disproportionate cruelty, fear and distress, Ecuador’s top court ruled in a landmark decision interpreting the country’s “rights of nature” constitutional laws.

The 7-2 ruling handed down last month in Quito is believed to be the first time a court has applied the rights of nature—laws that recognize the legal rights of ecosystems to exist and regenerate—to an animal, a woolly monkey named Estrellita.

The monkey was taken from the wild when she was 1 month old and kept as a pet by Ana Beatriz Burbano Proaño for 18 years. Possessing a wild animal is illegal under Ecuadorian law and authorities seized Estrellita in 2019, relocating her to a zoo. She died within a month.

Before Burbano, a librarian, realized Estrellita was deceased, she filed a habeas corpus petition, which is a legal mechanism to determine if the detention of an individual is valid. In the petition, Burbano asked that Estrellita be returned to her and later requested that the court declare that Estrellita’s rights had been violated. The case snaked its way through Ecuador’s legal system, landing before the Constitutional Court in December of last year. [Continue reading…]

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