Colombia

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Titlesort ascending Summary
Sentencia de Tutela Juzgado 3 de Bucaramanga de 25 de julio de 2017 This is the first time an animal, more specifically a dog, filed a lawsuit seeking that the government grant protection for the dog’s rights to life and health. The judge denied the action of "tutela" filed by the dog ("Negro") based on the definition of person given by the civil code. As a result, the judge concluded that "Negro" was not a person and therefore was not entitled to have rights. However, there is a possibility that the Constitutional Court on appeal will grant the plaintiff the rights he is seeking based on Decision T-622 de 2016, where the court declared that a river was subject to rights that guarantee its protection, conservation, maintenance, and restoration, and that the government was the main guarantor of these rights.
Sentencia C-889, 2012 Decision C-889 grants constitutional value to animal protection. It establishes the parameters for tradition and social roots. It limits the scope of bullfighting in the national territory. On this opportunity, the court decided on the constitutionality of Arts. 14 and 15 of the statute of Bullfighting Statute. It establishes the criteria that must be met in order for bullfighting to be legal: (1) Bullfighting has to meet the legal conditions established for public shows in general; (2) Bullfighting must meet the legal conditions established in the statute that regulates the taurine activity, Ley 916 of 2014; and (3) Bullfighting must comply with the constitutional conditions, restrictions, and limitations established in decision C-666 of 2010 to satisfy the mandate of animal welfare, animal protection, and to avoid suffering and pain. It must also satisfy social ingrain, location, opportunity, the condition of no financial funds, and exceptionality.
Sentencia C-666, 2010 The Constitutional Court decided on an unconstitutionality claim against Article 7 of the Statute of Animal Protection Ley 84 of 1989 that corresponds to the exceptions to the duty of animal protection. This decision established the conditions that must be met for the exceptions of Article 7 to apply. Put in different words, through Decision C-666, the court limits the scope of the legality of bullfighting, establishing certain requirements. In its holding, the Court stated that the seven practices in Article 7 would not violate the Constitution, so long as they were done within the following parameters: (1) As long as it is understood that these animals should, in all cases, obtain special protection against suffering and pain during the execution of these activities. This exception allows the continuation of cultural expressions and entertainment with animals, so long as exceptionally cruel acts against these animals are eliminated, or lessened in the future in a process of adaptation between cultural expressions and duties of protection to animals; (2) These practices can only take place in municipalities and districts in which the practices are themselves a manifestation of a regular, periodic and uninterrupted tradition, and therefore their execution responds to a certain regularity; (3) These practices can only take place during occasions in which they have commonly taken place and in the municipalities and districts where they are authorized; (4) These are the only practices that are authorized to be part of the exception in Article 7 to the constitutional duty to protect animals; and (5) Municipal authorities cannot economically support the construction of installations for the exclusive execution of the activities listed in Article 7 with public funds.
Sentencia C-467/16
Sentencia C-439, 2011 This is an unconstitutionality claim against Article 87 of Ley 769, 2002 (Trafic Code), relating the transportation of animals on vehicles of public transportation. Article 87 of Ley 769, established that only guide dogs could travel in this type of transportation when accompanying a blind person. The Plaintiff argued that this Article, which prohibited the transportation of animals on vehicles like buses and taxis, violated the right to equality, rights to personal and family privacy, right to free development of personality, freedom of locomotion, and private property. The court concluded that there was a violation to the right to free development of personality, freedom to locomotion, and to private property of the owners of domestic animals. The court added domestic animals as an exception to article 87, of Ley 769, meaning that this prohibition still remains for specimens of the wild fauna. Domestic animals now can travel on vehicles of public transportation, so long they are transported in conditions of health, safety, comfort and tranquility according to the applicable rules. The court also considered that a pertinent regulation was necessary to establish the requirements to transport animals on public vehicles.
Sentencia C-367, 2006 Decision C-367 decides on the unconstitutionality of some of the provisions of the Taurine Regulatory Statute. The Court held the provisions constitutional, but added a limitation to the participation of minors in the practice of bullfighting. With this decision, children under 14 cannot participate in the “cuadrillas.” The term “cuadrillas” is used to describe the group of people that accompany and assist the matador in the bullring throughout the duration of the bullfight. Sentencia C-367 imposes the principle of impartiality on the behavior of Mayors. Mayors have to act in strict accordance to the Law and the Constitution, and must be impartial when it comes to making decisions that affect this activity. According to this principle, “Mayors have the duty to act, recognizing that the purpose of the different procedures is to assure and guarantee the rights of all the people without any level of discrimination.” The Court also reaffirmed that Congress has complete power to legislate on bullfighting on the national level.
Sentencia C-283, 2014 This is an unconstitutionality claim against Articles 1º, 2º and 3º of Ley 1638, 2013 that prohibit the use of native and exotic wild animals in circuses. Plaintiffs argued that these Articles violated numerous provisions of the Constitution, including the right to work, right to choose a profession, rights to culture and recreation, and a violation to the freedom private initiative of the owners of the circuses. In decision C-283, the court held that Congress has the power to prohibit certain cultural manifestations that involve animal cruelty. The Court stated that “culture needs to be permanently reevaluated so it can adapt to human evolution, to guarantee of rights and the fulfillment of duties. Especially when the purpose is to eliminate the traces of a marginalized society that has excluded certain individuals and collectives.” The court also stated that the duty to protect animals is not absolute, as its application can be limited by values, principles and constitutional norms in specific cases that are contradictory to the principales. The judge must analyze each case under a reasonableness test, in a way that cultural manifestations can work harmoniously with the rights, principles, and duties established in the legal system. The Court held Article 1 of Ley 1638, 2013 constitutional, and refrains from deciding on the constitutionality of Articles 2 and 3, for lack of evidence to render a decision.
Sentencia C-148/22 Attorney Gabriel Andrés Suárez Gómez filed an unconstitutionality complaint with the Constitutional Court, arguing that recreational fishing violated the precautionary principle, the right to a healthy environment, and the prohibition of animal cruelty. Following the precedent created with C-045, 2019, prohibiting sport or trophy hunting, the Colombian Constitutional Court held on May 2, 2022, that the provisions concerning recreational fishing contained in various national laws were unconstitutional, effectively banning this practice in the entire territory. The court found that fishing for the sole purpose of recreation without any other relevant purposes like commercial or sustenance constitutes a form of animal abuse. Specifically, the court emphasized that the mandate of animal protection stems from the principle of the ecological constitution, the social function of property, and human dignity. Moreover, it was pointed out that, in this context, both the Legislature and the Court have previously recognized all animals as sentient beings. The court held that while it is not possible to define with absolute certainty the harmful consequences of recreational fishing in terms of conservation and animal welfare principles or the degradation of hydrobiological resources, there is relevant scientific information that must be considered to avoid harmful effects on fish and the habitat. Regarding animal sentience, after an exhaustive analysis, the court emphasized that there are compelling reasons to consider that fish can feel pain, and the mandate of animal protection requires treating sentient beings with dignity. Similarly, according to the FAO, there is currently no method capable of fully eliminating the mistreatment of fish, and there are environmental impacts that must be seriously considered alongside the economic benefits proposed in favor of recreational fishing. This situation led the Constitutional Court to activate the precautionary principle. The court held that there is a duty to protect animals, which implied a prohibition of animal cruelty. This duty protects both the ecosystemic balance and individual sentient animals with intrinsic value. This protection is differentiated and weighted based on the type of species involved, whether domestic or wild. Moreover, the duty of animal protection carries an indisputable binding effect, requiring assessments of reasonableness and proportionality in its application by both legislators and judges. After an extensive analysis of the positive and negative effects that the prohibition of this activity would carry out, the court concluded that recreational fishing constitutes a form of animal cruelty that violates the right to a healthy environment, specifically the prohibition against animal cruelty in accordance with laws and constitutional jurisprudence that lacked constitutional support as it is not grounded in constitutionally permissible limits for animal mistreatment, such as (a) religious freedom; (b) dietary habits; (c) medical research and experimentation; and (d) deeply rooted cultural practices. Considering the interests of those affiliated with the activity, who would be significantly impacted by the invalidation of the laws subject to this opinion, and who have been conducting activities under laws previously deemed constitutional, the court decided to defer the effects of the decision for one year. This was with the purpose of allowing those adversely affected by it to adapt to the new circumstances.
Sentencia C-148/22 El abogado Gabriel Andrés Suárez Gómez presentó una demanda de inconstitucionalidad ante la Corte Constitucional, argumentando que la pesca recreativa violaba el principio de precaución, el derecho a un medio ambiente sano y la prohibición de crueldad animal. Siguiendo el precedente creado con la sentencia C-045 de 2019, que prohíbe la caza deportiva, la Corte Constitucional de Colombia decidió el 2 de mayo del 2022 que las disposiciones relativas a la pesca recreativa contenidas en diversas leyes nacionales eran inconstitucionales, prohibiendo efectivamente esta práctica en todo el territorio. La corte determinó que pescar con fines recreativos, sin ningún otro propósito relevante como comercial o de sustento, constituye una forma de crueldad animal. Específicamente, la corte enfatizó que el mandato de protección animal se deriva del principio de la constitución ecológica, la función social de la propiedad y la dignidad humana. Además, se señaló que, en este contexto, tanto el legislativo como la corte han reconocido previamente a todos los animales como seres sintientes. La corte sostuvo que, aunque no es posible definir con certeza absoluta las consecuencias dañinas de la pesca recreativa en términos de principios de conservación y bienestar animal o la degradación de los recursos hidrobiológicos, existe información científica relevante que debe ser considerada para evitar efectos perjudiciales en los peces y el hábitat.
Respecto a la sintiencia animal, tras un exhaustivo análisis, la corte enfatizó que hay razones convincentes para considerar que los peces pueden sentir dolor, y el mandato de protección animal requiere tratar a los seres sintientes con dignidad. De manera similar, según la FAO, actualmente no existe ningún método capaz de eliminar completamente el maltrato a los peces, y hay impactos ambientales que deben ser considerados seriamente junto con los beneficios económicos propuestos a favor de la pesca recreativa. Esta situación llevó a la Corte Constitucional a activar el principio de precaución.
La corte determinó que hay un deber de proteger a los animales que implica proteger tanto el equilibrio ecosistémico como a los animales sintientes individuales con valor intrínseco. Esta protección se diferencia y pondera en función del tipo de especie involucrada, ya sea doméstica o silvestre. Además, el deber de protección animal lleva consigo un efecto vinculante indiscutible, que requiere evaluaciones de razonabilidad y proporcionalidad en su aplicación tanto por parte de legisladores como de jueces. Tras un extenso análisis de los efectos positivos y negativos que conllevaría la prohibición de esta actividad, la corte concluyó que la pesca recreativa constituye una forma de crueldad animal que viola el derecho a un medio ambiente sano, específicamente la prohibición contra la crueldad animal de acuerdo con leyes y jurisprudencia constitucional que carecían de respaldo constitucional al no estar fundamentadas en límites permisibles constitucionalmente para el maltrato animal, como (a) la libertad religiosa; (b) los hábitos alimenticios; (c) la investigación médica y experimentación; y (d) prácticas culturales arraigadas.
Teniendo en cuenta los intereses de aquellos afiliados a la actividad, que se verían significativamente afectados por la invalidación de las leyes sujetas a esta opinión, y que han estado llevando a cabo actividades bajo leyes previamente consideradas constitucionales, la corte decidió posponer los efectos de la decisión por un año. Esto con el propósito de permitir que aquellos afectados adversamente por ella se adapten a las nuevas circunstancias.
Sentencia C-148, 2022 In this opportunity, the Colombian Constitutional Court deemed national recreational fishing regulations unconstitutional three years after banning recreational hunting. Specifically, the Court determined that provisions pertaining to this matter, contained in the Code of Natural Renewable Resources, the General Statute of Animal Protection, and the Fishing Statute, violated the government's constitutional obligation to protect the environment, the right to environmental education, and the prohibition of animal cruelty. The Court recognized constitutional limitations on the prohibition of animal cruelty that were based on religious freedom, eating habits, medical research and experimentation, and deeply rooted cultural manifestations. Consequently, the Court held that fishing for recreational purposes was a cruel practice that did not fall within any of these exceptions.

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