Learn more about Peltz-Steele v. UMass Faculty Federation at Court Listener (complaint) and the Liberty Justice Center. The case is now on appeal in the First Circuit as no. 22-1466 (PACER paywall). Please direct media inquiries to Kristen Williamson.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Habeas petition for woolly monkey was valid, Ecuadorian court rules, recognizing right of nature

A silvery woolly monkey at the Louisville Zoo
(Ltshears CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
The Constitutional Court of Ecuador entered a landmark ruling on the rights of nature in January when it recognized the legitimacy of a habeas petition on behalf of a woolly monkey named Estrellita.

Estrellita was removed from the wild illegally almost two decades ago. Fortunately she came to be in the care of a librarian and effectively became part of the family for 18 years. But when Estrellita suffered a respiratory emergency, and the family sought medical treatment, authorities seized her for commitment to a zoo. Fearful of the profound distress that must have afflicted Estrellita, besides her ailment, the family filed a habeas petition. Estrellita died, but the petition persisted in the courts.

I wrote in December about the Ecuadorian court's landmark ruling on indigenous rights. As I wrote then, the decision implicitly recognized the right of nature in tandem with indigenous peoples' conservation of natural resources. The Estrellita case makes explicit the judicial recognition of Ecuador's constitutional right of nature, independent of human rights.

Elizabeth Gamillo wrote about the case for Smithsonian in April. Her story linked to a certified translation of the final judgment in the case, "Estrellita Monkey," No. 253-20-JH/22 (Rights of Nature and animals as subjects of rights) (Ct. Const. Ecuador Jan. 27, 2022).

Gamillo added: "Other countries, like Canada and New Zealand as well as several cities in the United States, have treaties or local laws that give wild animals some protection. In November 2021, the United Kingdom recognized several invertebrates, including lobsters, octopuses and crabs, as sentient beings. However, these rights have not been applied at the constitutional level, Science Alert reports."

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