“Seven years ago, from the Observatory for Animal Justice and Defense, we raised the need to start the #AnimalesNOsonCosas campaign so that animals are not legally considered objects in Spain; historic political consensus and social support for nearly half a million citizens were reached on Change.org , Nuria Menendez de Lano Rodriguez, a lawyer and director of this Spanish organization, explained to DW.
On January 5, this demand became a reality with the entry into force of the regulations for the legal system for animals, which are now considered sentient beings, which is why pets cannot be mortgaged or confiscated. Likewise, the regulations define custody systems in cases of family separation and the protection of animals in the event of indirect violence, among other practical applications.
He stressed that it “represents one of the great milestones and advances of animal law, since animal consciousness is a necessary condition for laying the foundations for the gradual normative development of non-human animals as other persons of law and individuals with special interests.” .
The Spanish directive added that with this initiative, “Spain joins the group of European countries in the movement de personification of animals, which also includes Austria, Germany, France and Portugal.”
The work of the organization led by Hernandez in Colombia where there is a ban on animal-drawn vehicles.
Colombia in the fore
Although the initiative is pioneering in Spain, it has been in Colombia for years. Carlos Andres Contreras López, a Colombian lawyer, explained to DW that “in 2016, Law 1774 was passed, which amended the Colombian Civil Code in order to consider animals as sentient beings.”
Added to this is another teacher. “Judgment C-666 of 2010 of the Colombian Constitutional Court granted, for the first time, to animals, consisting of domestic animals, wild animals and in general all kinds of animals, the quality of sentient beings. The Court adopted the term based on a broad interpretation of the concept of ecology in the Constitution of Colombia,” he added Also a Doctor of Animal Law.
For Catherine Hernandez, director of AnimaNaturalis Internacional in Colombia, “One of the great advantages we got was articulating activism with politics.” “Continuing cases of animal abuse have led to political activism taking political spaces to change laws and asking politicians for regulations that protect animals,” he told DW.
This trend was also recorded in other countries in the region, allowing animal rights to advance. “Cases like that of Sandra’s orangutan in Argentina were a watershed in regards to animal rights; Gabriel Ochoa, director of communications for PETA Latino, announced on DW that Sandra was a non-human person and could be sent to a shelter.
“In 2017, Guatemala declared animals to be sentient beings. Peru recognizes animals as sentient beings in the Animal Welfare Act. Major cities like Mexico City have also declared animals to be sentient beings in their constitutions,” added Ochoa.
Contreras-López also noted other factors that have helped advance the issue, including the fact that there are animal species whose survival is linked to environmental conservation and biodiversity. “This latter group of animals stimulated important legal and doctrinal advances in Latin America,” he stressed.
The Colombian lawyer recalls that “Ecuador has not amended its civil law to remove animals from the classification of things, but it is the only country in the world where nature is recognized as a subject of rights in the constitution.”
Despite these developments, there is still work to be done. Mexico banned circuses with animals many years ago. However, it does not have federal animal protection law. On the other hand, Argentina banned greyhound racing a few years ago, but it was the only one, and Colombia also banned animal testing for cosmetic testing,” explained Ochoa.
In Spain, for example, bulls were excluded from the new regulations. “Bullfighting is considered a cultural component by our legal system and is subject to cultural protection. Nuria Menendez noted that this reform does not regulate public performances or cultural events, and therefore does not affect bullfighting.
“Only 8 countries in the world allow the torture and killing of a bull in the ring. However, in these countries, in some places, such as the Mexican states of Quintana Roo, Coahuila, Sonora and Guerrero, it would have been outlawed, or legislation was implemented to make it impossible In cities like Bogotá, Colombia,” Ochoa stressed.
In this sense, Colombian specialist Catherine Hernandez added that “there are many mayors’ offices that have joined in rejecting this activity. It should also be noted that bull rings no longer have sufficient capacity, this is a dying activity on its own and keeping it alive is no longer a business.”
For this reason, the PETA Latino representative launched a call: “Let’s not attend events that use animals.” He also listed a series of measures to achieve animal welfare in the region: “Let’s stop consuming products derived from animal exploitation and abuse. Let’s not buy animals, clothes made of animal skin or fur, let’s not eat their bodies, and we don’t consume products tested on animals.”