Originally published April 29 2015
Why chimpanzees and sentient animals deserve 'nonhuman rights'
by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) The most historic advancement for animal rights in the US emerged when New York State Judge Barbara Jaffe granted a writ of habeas corpus for two chimps, Hercules and Leo. The two chimps have been held captive for biomedical laboratory research at Stony Brook University in New York. Now the animals are one step closer to being freed because the Nonhuman Rights Project (NRP) is representing the chimps in court and vying for their release to an animal sanctuary.
In the initial ruling, Judge Jaffe ordered that Stony Brook University must prove that the chimps are being lawfully detained. The writ of habeas corpus didn't grant the two chimps full human rights, but it did give the chimps the right not to be abused as property or be held in captivity.
NRP pointed out that, "Under the law of New York State, only a 'legal person' may have an order to show cause and writ of habeas corpus issued in his or her behalf." NRP saw the ruling as a breakthrough. "The Court has therefore implicitly determined that Hercules and Leo are 'persons,'" the organization stated.
Judge conflicted with defining chimps as legal "persons"However, within 48 hours of the ruling, Judge Jaffe backtracked and crossed out "& writ of habeas corpus" from her initial ruling. This amendment took away the chimps' right as "persons," casting doubt that they may not be freed after all. Are sentient animals like chimpanzees merely just property of their university owners, or can a case be made that the animals have a right not to be held in captivity?
Now the president of Stony Brook University must answer to the court, explaining his reason for detaining the animals. Will the court rule in favor of the university, subjecting the chimps to whatever medical experiments their owners decide upon?
Or perhaps a shift in human consciousness is occurring -- a shift of heart that recognizes the unethical practices of detaining animals and using living beings for personal gain...
However the court rules, the legal rights of chimpanzees and other sentient animals is one step closer to being recognized. Opponents of animal rights don't want animals to be put on the same legal playing field as humans, and rightfully so, but that does not excuse humans' insensitivity and cruelty toward other living things. While animals are not human, they are still connected to us. They are still conscious living beings. Animals that are detained in the cruelest conditions should be protected and have a right to their own inherent freedom.
Nonhuman Rights Project shines light on humans' cruelty to all living thingsThat's why the Nonhuman Rights Project is so important. This group is giving a voice to animals which cannot speak and represent themselves. Humans routinely exploit animals for profit. They may expand industry and at the same time disregard the health of animals by polluting their habitat. They may try to advance a scientific agenda by carrying out medical research that requires the animals to be detained. They may feed corporate profits by forcing animals into concentrated feeding operations that sicken and abuse the animals. Animal abuse runs rampant today.
As humans awake to the damage they cause to life on Earth, they start to see how their actions toward all living things ultimately affect their own happiness, health and spiritual connection.
Animals may not be humans, but they deserve their own nonhuman rights to live in harmony on Earth, and not in states of abuse and captivity. Recognizing the rights of animals to be free from abuse is something humanity is slowly awakening to. Strides have already been made in Argentina and India, where the nonhuman rights of cetaceans and organgutans have already been recognized. It's time for the US to take a step forward, treating sentient animals with love and respect -- not as objects of abuse and not as property that can exploited for personal gain.
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