The Swiss region votes to give primates basic rights

In 2017, an Argentine court granted the female chimpanzee Cecilia the right not to be imprisoned without trial under Habeas Corpus.

The northern region of Switzerland will vote on Sunday whether non-human primates should enjoy some of the same basic basic rights as their human cousins.

The vote In Basel City, where the city of the same name and one of Europe’s most famous zoos are located, they are enthusiastically followed. Animal rights activist..

Give primates “integrity”

The regional vote triggered by the campaign group Sentience under the Swiss direct democracy system Primates Right to life and right to “mental and physical integrity”.

“This is the first time in the world that people can vote. Basic rights for Animals other than humansThe group insists.

The Basel-based sensibility says that primates maintain a very intelligent and active social life and feel pain, sadness and compassion.

However, they cannot protect themselves from intervention in their lives. That’s why humans need to be responsible and empowered, says Sentience.

According to this group, about 150 primates live in the canton, which borders France and Germany.

Legal challenge

In 2020, the Swiss Supreme Court vote This topic is valid and we have dismissed the appeal.

Proposal is a basic right animal-Introduce certain rights instead Non-human primates..

However, the proposal only detains state and local governments in Switzerland’s third-largest city, saying it is “not a direct individual.”

Therefore, the impact on private research institutes and the Basel Zoo in the hands of family shareholders is limited.

And, according to the court, there are no primates in local governments and their public institutions.

Enactment of law

The vote is “a statement of intent for primates to live in better condition,” said Pedro Pozas, Spanish director of the Ape Project, an international movement that demands a range of rights.

Animal advocates say voting is very symbolic. Steven Wise, a US lawyer specializing in animal rights, said the scope could be very wide.

The vote “will give primates certain rights, which will have to file proceedings over what rights they are,” he told AFP.

According to Wise, the proposal raises some questions, such as who will file a proceeding in court if primate rights are violated.

If the vote is passed, the Swiss court has not heard such a case first in the meantime.

In 2017, an Argentine court granted female chimpanzees the right not to be imprisoned without trial under Habeas Corpus. It was the first chimpanzee in the world to benefit from this right.

Wise said the animal rights movement is trying to “break down barriers” that limit the scope of rights.

He expanded his rights among humans, citing children, females, or racial minorities, comparing the situation to previous battles.

Mr Pozas said the United Nations should also declare the rights of apes.

Euthanasia question

The proposed new law concerns only primates kept by public institutions, but Olivier Pagan, a member of the Zoo Basel Board of Directors, fears spillover effects on primates.

“If the initiative is adopted, their well-being and safety scrutiny will be the responsibility of the mediator … or an unqualified lawyer, not the responsibility of an experienced biologist, veterinarian, or experienced caregiver. Let’s do it, “he said.

If a primate is in severe pain, it may not be able to end its suffering under the right to life clause.

“If the initiative is adopted and we decide to put the animals to sleep, I will put myself beyond the law,” said Fabia Wyss, a zoo veterinarian.

“But by unnecessarily afflicting animals, I take responsibility as well.”

In rare cases of legitimate voting by people in prison, investigations show

© 2022 AFP

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The Swiss region votes to give primates basic rights

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