Although the different legislations have included animals in their texts for decades, their inclusion in them has mostly been in an instrumental sense, considering them as working instruments whose legal protection was equal to that of mere objects or things. , property of an owner, who could claim the economic value of the loss of said animal as an instrument of economic exploitation.
We have an environmental legislation where wild flora and fauna are protected in that their protection is inherent to that of the environment in which they live, but in this article, we are going to put aside environmental laws, which they have already been mentioned in other articles, to focus on the regulations that offer protection to animals that live more closely with humans. Keep reading this interesting AgroCorrn article if you want to discover what animal rights are .
List of the 5 freedoms of animal welfare
In the first place, we cannot fail to mention one of the declarations at the international level best known to all, since everyone, to a greater or lesser extent, has heard of it, we refer to the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights , declared by UNESCO in 1977. It consists of 14 articles , through which animals are recognized as beings that deserve protection by law, as well as dignified treatment and respect at all times. In this link you can see the list of the 14 articles of animal rights according to the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights.
In addition, the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) establishes guidelines for animal welfare , whose application was produced worldwide in 1993, these guidelines are a set of “5 freedoms”, which are the responsibility of human beings and consist in that every animal has the right to live off following form:
- Free from hunger, thirst and malnutrition.
- Free from fear and anguish.
- Free of physical and thermal discomfort.
- Free from injury, pain and illness.
- Free to manifest natural behavior.
Although the aforementioned is idyllic, it is necessary to point out that both statements are still a set of “good intentions”, since they do not imply mandatory regulations for the different states.
What are animal rights at the legislative level
At the legislative level, at present, animal rights are still very precarious, although it is true that the path that is being taken seems to be the correct one, or at least much better than the previous situation, Therefore, more and more we can find both laws and jurisprudence (judgments of the different courts) that establish protection for animals that did not exist until now. Society is asking for a change and little by little both the laws and those who are responsible for applying them respond.
It is important to note that there is still much to do in terms of legislation on animal rights . Regulations are currently being developed that regulate animal welfare, as well as the prohibition of torture, transport, normal against animal suffering, etc. In this sense, there are experts who call them “first generation” rights, as happened with human rights., which began with basic civil rights and later became broader rights, endowing the person by the mere fact of being social, economic and cultural rights, that is why several jurists agree on the view that rights of animals are evolving in the same sense, moving from regulations that saw animal protection from the perspective of their usefulness for humans, to the proliferation of animal protection laws regarding their condition as sentient beings that deserve protection by themselves, that is, by the fact of being.
An example of this can be found in Germany, where in article 20 of the fundamental law of the Federal Republic of Germany, it establishes the obligation of State intervention regarding the protection of animals.
In the case of Spain, although it is true that more and more rights to animals are recognized , since we must not forget the introduction in the criminal code of the crime of animal abuse (which has meant a before and after in terms of the vision of animal rights is concerned), it is still necessary to carry out a development of mechanisms aimed at making animal protection effective, especially those that refer to their legal defense, since, despite the fact that the exercise of criminal action against animal abuseIt corresponds to the prosecution in terms of its status as a public prosecution, in practice, the lack of these mechanisms means that the prosecution must be carried out by different associations in defense of animals or by volunteer lawyers. An example of a mechanism we have in Zurich, where they have a public defender for animals that are abused.
Likewise, in January 2020, the General Directorate of Animal Rights was created by the Government of Spain , which we hope that in the not too distant future will make good proposals, and above all applicable and realistic proposals, in terms of animal protection is concerned.
Examples of judgments related to animal rights
Although there are currently laws that continue to qualify animals as things, society no longer sees it that way. In recent years, there has been a great change in the way of thinking about animals , therefore, laws such as the Civil Code of Catalonia, the Lisbon treaty, as well as some regional and municipal laws already qualify the animals as “sentient beings” , as is the case of the Canary Islands Animal Welfare Law. Likewise, due to the relationship that many people currently have with their animals, the courts have begun to rule on the basis not only of the material damage suffered by the “owner” of the animal, but that they compensate the human companion of said animal, for the moral damage caused by its loss. In this sense, the judgment of the court of first instance No. 32 of Barcelona is noteworthy, which was issued in 2007 by the magistrate Guillermo Arias Boo, in which we could see the following legal basis is of an overwhelming social reality, and says the following:
“It is clear, moreover, that the damage suffered by people who lose a loved one goes far beyond the loss of property that it may represent for them. Actually, it is priceless. Walt Disney already said, at the beginning of ‘The Lady and the Tramp’, that if there is one thing that nobody has been able to buy for money, it is the wagging of the tail of a dog. Thus there is no money to compensate the plaintiff, her husband, and her children for the loss they have suffered. But that should not serve as a pretext for failing to acknowledge, even symbolically, by means of pecuniary compensation, however insufficient it may be, that there is a person who must answer to them, according to civil law, for the moral evil that they have had to suffer ”.
Continuing in the same order, we cannot forget sentence 102/2018 of January 15, 2018, issued by the Criminal Court No. 2 of Mérida, a sentence that was later confirmed in its entirety by the Provincial Court of Badajoz, in the which a man was sentenced to 27 months in prison to an individual for throwing two dogs into a well and later stoning them to the death of one of them, being convicted of two crimes of animal abuse of art. 337 of the Penal Code, basing the ruling on the consideration of animals as sentient beings, through the following words:
“Dogs are living beings endowed with sensitivity.” “For this reason, we cannot limit the protection of the animal to the domain of the owner.” And they continue: “The relationship of the person and the animal transcends the domain: the faculties of use and enjoyment of the animal, as well as the provision on it, must respect its condition of being sensitive, so that the owner must preserve the animal welfare and, of course, must refrain from mistreating it, abandoning it and, above all, causing a cruel death. “
” E n the crime of abuse animals the legally protected property is not ” because ” In g eneral, it is understood that animal welfare is linked to the absence of unnecessary pain or suffering .” For this reason, “ The criminal law is based on a series of duties that people have towards animals. “
Based on what is stated in this article, it can be summarized that we are currently facing an “embryonic” phase, in which some foundations are being developed on which animal law will one day rest , every day more present in our society. . There is still a long way to go in this regard, since current state regulations focus more on the hygiene and health conditions of animals, both in livestock farms and in zoological centers, lacking regulations regarding animal welfare and protection , although the direction you are taking is the right one.
After knowing all this, now we also advise you to read these other articles about Animal exploitation and How to avoid animal abuse . We also encourage you to watch this video on why it is important to protect endangered animals.
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