As reported by the Daily Telegraph - It's been claimed that Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees used for academic research into locomotion at Stony Brook university USA, have been given a right equivalent to that given to a human being, via a successful habeus corpus order.
This kind of order is usually made for unlawfully detained (human) prisoners - issuing such an order for a non-human animal is, according to the Telegraph's report, a legal first.
However, to claim that the order amounts to a grant of human rights is rather misleading; it's unclear if this is merely a technicality, issued as a vehicle for the unusual case to be heard in the absence of a more appropriate mechanism, and to allow Stony Brook to argue their case against legal personhood. The trial judge may well decide against Hercules and Leo's case, and deny them the ability to have enforceable human rights.
This is similar to the process for getting a referral to the ECJ, via non-implementing legislation - a hook to hang one's hat on, so to speak, so the case gets before a judge.
It's interesting to imagine what effect this case will have on global attitudes towards the use of non-human animals for research, as it progresses. On the one hand, research involving non-human animals have allowed modern science and medicine to progress in leaps and bounds, beyond what the ethical limits of human trials allow. On the other, there's the pervasive dream of absolute universal suffrage.
Thoughts? Is there a possibility of, or precedent for non-human animals to be given rights equivalent to a human in the EU? What impact, if any, will this have on international human rights law, should the chimpanzees win their case? @JamesDLamont
Two chimpanzees have been given the same rights as unlawfully detained prisoners by an American court in an apparent legal first. The US judge's order requires lawyers for Stony Brook university in New York to respond in court in May to a lawsuit by activists seeking the chimpanzees' transfer to a Florida animal sanctuary. The Nonhuman Rights Project, the group bringing the case, hailed the ruling as a legal landmark that was about much more than the immediate fate of Hercules and Leo, the primates used for locomotion research on the Long Island campus.