The NhRP Praises Argentine Court's Recognition of Captive Chimpanzee's Legal Personhood and Rights
Dec. 5, 2016—New York, N.Y.—The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), the only civil rights organization in the United States working to secure legal rights for nonhuman animals, hailed Judge María Alejandra Mauricio’s Nov. 3 ruling that a captive chimpanzee named Cecilia at the Mendoza Zoo is a “non-human legal person” with “inherent rights.”
After procuring and carefully reviewing a complete English translation of the 33-page ruling issued in response to a habeas corpus lawsuit filed by the Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) with the Third Court of Guarantees in Mendoza, the NhRP announced its intention to bring the ruling to the immediate attention of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, which in early 2017 will hear oral arguments in the NhRP’s appeals on behalf of captive chimpanzees Tommy and Kiko.
“We’re pleased to see habeas corpus lawsuits being filed on behalf of nonhuman animals with increasing frequency in South America as we’ve been doing in the United States since 2013,” said NhRP President Steven M. Wise. “That the Court granted AFADA’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, declared her a non-human legal person as opposed to a ‘thing,’ and ordered her transferred to a sanctuary within six months is another step in a worldwide struggle to bring legal rights to appropriate nonhuman animals.”
Judge Mauricio’s ruling, among other key aspects, identifies Cecilia’s case as a matter of the protection of the “collective good and value … embodied in the wellbeing of Cecilia” pursuant to Argentina’s General Environmental Law. “Cecilia’s present situation moves us,” Judge Mauricio writes. “If we take care of her wellbeing, it is not Cecilia who will owe us; it is us who will have to thank her for giving us the opportunity to grow as a group and to feel a little more human.”
Wise considers Judge Mauricio’s thorough examination of the bases for recognition of great apes’ personhood and rights in Argentina “a continuation of an ongoing paradigm shift in how other species are viewed and treated under the law.”
“We congratulate AFADA on this victory and are pleased Cecilia will soon be able to live more autonomously among others of her kind in a suitable habitat,” Wise said.
About the Nonhuman Rights Project
Founded in 1996 by attorney Steven M. Wise, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is the only civil rights organization working to achieve actual legal rights for members of species other than our own. Our mission is to change the legal status of at least some nonhuman animals from mere “things,” which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to “persons,” who possess such fundamental rights as bodily integrity and bodily liberty and those other legal rights to which evolving standards of morality, scientific discovery, and human experience entitle them. Our current plaintiffs are members of species who have been scientifically proven to be autonomous: currently, great apes, elephants, dolphins, and whales. We are working with teams of attorneys on four continents to develop campaigns to achieve legal rights for nonhuman animals that are suited to the legal systems of these countries. Our first cases were filed in December of 2013.
About NhRP President Steven M. Wise
Steven M. Wise began his mission to gain rights for nonhuman animals in 1985. He holds a J.D. from Boston University Law School and a B.S. in chemistry from the College of William and Mary. He has practiced animal protection law for 38 years and is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar. Professor Wise taught the first class in “Animal Rights Law” at the Harvard Law School and is currently teaching “Animal Rights Jurisprudence” at the Lewis and Clark Law School and Vermont Law School. He is the author of four books: Rattling the Cage – Toward Legal Rights for Animals; Drawing the Line – Science and the Case for Animal Rights; Though the Heavens May Fall – The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery; and An American Trilogy – Death, Slavery, and Dominion Along the Banks of the Cape Fear River. His TED Talk from the TED2015 Conference in Vancouver, Canada was released in May of 2015, and has nearly one million views.