Colombia

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Decision STL12651-2017 The Labor Cassation Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice decided on an action of ‘tutela’ filed by la Fundación Botánica y Zoológica de Barranquilla, Fundazoo against the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court, Luis Domingo Gómez Maldonado, Corpocaldas and others. The Plaintiffs argued that the Defendants had violated their rights to due process and right to defense, as well as the principle of legality and contradiction, when the Defendant ordered the transfer of the spectacled bear ‘Chucho’ from the Barranquilla zoo to a natural reserve in Narino. Plaintiff sought to leave without effect Decision AHC4806 2017 that granted habeas corpus to ‘Chucho’, the spectacled bear, allowing the bear to stay at the Barranquilla Zoo, which according to Plaintiffs, is able to provide Chucho with all the requirements for his well being, including veterinary care, food, companionship and infrastructure. The Labor Chamber decided for the Plaintiff and left without effect the decision of the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court, arguing that the Civil Chamber had ruled based on norms that did not apply to the specific case, to a point that the effects of such application had resulted in an interpretation that completely deferred to what the legislative had intended. The Civil Chamber, the court said in its reasoning, wrongly applied the procedure of habeas corpus, which led to the violation of the due process of law of the Plaintiffs, as ‘Chucho’ has no legal capacity to be a party in a legal procedure.

The labor chamber explained that from a constitutional view, the granting of habeas corpus for the protection of animals was not proper, as it is established to protect the right to freedom of persons, which is the basis for a society. For that reason, it can only be attributable to human beings that can be individualized. This rules out the other beings to use this mechanism, including legal persons, as it would erode the real essence of this legal mechanism, the court stated. Furthermore, the magister judge states that the legal treatment that has been given to animals corresponds to the sentients beings, which implies their protection, rather than persons. This means that humans have the responsibility to respect animals, but does not imply that animals can fight for their freedom through the mechanism of habeas corpus, in these cases the defense of animals cannot be resolved by giving them the status of persons, but rather through judicial mechanisms such as popular actions (for the protection of collective and diffuse rights and interests), or with preventive material apprehension
Decision AHC4806-2017 (Original case in Spanish below; English translation attached as pdf). The Supreme Court of Justice rules in favor of the spectacled bear, ‘Chucho’, granting him the habeas corpus after the bear’s attorney challenged the lower court decision that denied it. Chucho is a 22 year old spectacled bear that was born and raised in semi-captivity. He lived for 18 years in a natural reserve in the city of Manizales with his sister. After his sister died, Chucho became depressed and started escaping. The environmental authorities thought that it would be in the best interest of the bear to relocate him, for which they decided to move him to a zoo in the northern of Colombia. Unfortunately, the living conditions of Chucho were diminished, as he went from living in semi-captivity to living into a smaller area. Attorney Luis Domingo Maldonado filed an habeas corpus in representation of the bear that was denied on first instance by the civil chamber of the Superior Tribunal of Manizales. Attorney Luis Domingo Maldonado argued that the current legal system did not have a specific proper mechanism that allowed the taking of immediate and urgent measures to protect the rights of animals as sentient beings to retire them for centers of captivity when they have spent their lives in natural reserves. He also used as examples the precedents from Brazil and Argentina where a chimpanzee and an orangutan were granted habeas corpus. Attorney Maldonado sought that the court order the immediate and permanent relocation of Chucho to the natural reserve ‘La Planada’, located in the Department of Narino. The Civil Chamber reversed the decision on first instance, and ordered the relocation of Chucho from the zoo in Barranquilla to a more appropriate location of semi-captivity conditions. In its reasoning, the magistrate judge stated that animals are entitled to rights as sentient beings, not as humans, and that the idea is to insert a morality of respect to counter a global ecological public order where the tendency of men is to destroy the habitat. After long considerations, the chamber stated that it is necessary to modify the concept of ‘subject of rights’ in relation with nature, understanding that who is subject of rights is not necessarily correlatively-bound to have duties. “The legal, ethical and political purpose is the unavoidable need to create a strong conscience to protect the vital environment for the survival of men, conservation of the environment and as a frontal fight against the irrationality in the man-nature relationship.”
Council of the State, Sentencia 22.592 of May 23, 2012 Appeal, brought by the Plaintiff, who sought compensation for negligence on the part of the municipality of Anserma for the wrongful death of her husband, who died in the corrals of the slaughterhouse of Anserma when a bull charged him, causing him to fall and hit his head. The Plaintiff alleged that the slaughterhouse facilities were in poor condition, which was the cause of her husband’s death. If the facilities have been in good condition, he would not have had the accident. The court analyzed whether the damage was a result of the municipality's negligence as it did not maintained the facilities in a safe condition, or, if alternatively, it was an unfortunate accident not imputable to the Defendant. The court concluded that the Plaintiff did not present enough evidence to prove that the conditions of the facilities were the cause of the death of her husband. The court also found that the municipality was not in charge of the cattle in the slaughterhouse. Therefore, the damages were not imputable to the municipality. Furthermore, the court found the deceased was not an employee of the municipality, he was an independent employee that was hired by the slaughterhouse workers to assist them during the slaughter of cattle. The Court affirms the decision of the lower court and declares an exception of unconstitutionality of the expression “and if he alleges that he was not able to avoid the damage, he will not be heard.” of the Article 2354 of the Civil Code

In its reasoning, the court determined that the accident was a result of contributory negligence and assumption of the risk on the part of the deceased, and not a result of the behavior of the animal. The court addressed Article 2354 of the Civil Code, that established that the caretaker of a fierce animal that does not report any benefit for the owner will be responsible for the damages the animal may cause, but if he alleges that if the damages were unavoidable, he will not be heard. The court declared unconstitutional the line “ and if he alleges that he was not able to avoid the damage, he will not be heard.” The court stated that it was inappropriate to address this scenario that involves responsibility derived from the behavior of animals under the parameters in the Civil Code that treated animals as goods. As today, it was of common acceptance that animals are sentient beings. Animals just as disabled people and other beings had dignity in themselves. They have a vital purpose, so much that they can enter a direct and permanent relationship with humans. The court continues to say that without this idea, the notion of legal capacity and the recognition of fundamental rights for legal persons could not exist. Animals should not be compared to objects or things, as they have dignity. The court recognized that animals and other living beings have their own value, and that even if it is acceptable that they are used for the human’s own benefit, it does not prevent us from recognizing that they are living beings, endowed with own value, and therefore subject to some rights.
Colombia, Resolución 002341, 2007 Resolution 002341 de 2007 sets parameters and requirements with the goal of guaranteeing the efficiency of the different processes that are part of the system of production of cattle for slaughter, while taking into account the livestock’s health and safety. Some of the topics that this resolution regulates include registration of production farms, requirements of the farming facilities, animal health and biosafety, veterinary medicines good practices, animal feeding good practices, farm and livestock transportation personnel, animal welfare and animal transportation.
Colombia - Zoos - LEY 611, 2000 Ley 611, 200 regulates the usage and management of terrestrial and aquatic fauna, and their products. To accomplish this goal, this law permits such use and management to be done through direct harvest of species in their environment, or through zoo breeders of open and/or close cycle. It requires terrestrial and aquatic fauna to be used to obtain economic gain in a way that does not lead to the diminishment of the different species populations in a long term. To do so, this law requires the acquisition of operating licenses before the breeders begin their operations.
Colombia - Wildlife - Ley 2111
Colombia - Wildlife - Decreto 1608, 1978 Decreto 1608 regulates the Code of Natural Renewable Resources and environmental protection regarding terrestrial wildlife, as well as all the activities and products relating to this resource. Even though Decreto 1608, lays out general dispositions for the conservation and protection of terrestrial wildlife, Article 5 establishes that Decreto 1608 applies to “the management of cetaceans, sirenians, pinnipeds, marine and semi-aquatic birds, sea turtles and fresh or brackish water, anuran batrachians and all other species that do not complete their life cycle in the aquatic environment, but that depend on it for their subsistence.” In order to guarantee the efficient use of wildlife and its products, Decreto 1608, requires specific licenses for the exploitation of wildlife and its products. It establishes the parameters and limitations for the activity of hunting and the granting of licenses for this purpose.
Colombia - Whaling - Ley 1348, 2009 This law adopts the "International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling" signed in Washington D.C. on December 2, 1946 and the Protocol to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling signed in Washington D.C. on November 19, 1956. Colombia is one of the 89 countries that are part of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). This Commission is an intergovernmental organization that seeks to implement measures aiming for the conservation of whales and the regulation of whaling. Colombia joined this commission in 2011.
Colombia - Veterinary - LEY 576, 2000, Code of Ethics for the professional exercise of veterinary medicine and animal husbandry. This law reflects the Code of Ethics for the professional exercise of veterinary medicine and animal husbandry. This law contains the guidelines and standards of the veterinary professions that must be followed by veterinarians and veterinary zoo technicians to avoid veterinary malpractice liability. Ley 576, prescribes the type of behaviors that are not allowed and the circumstances were such behaviors could take place. In addition, this law also creates the tribunal of professional ethics for these professions, and the legal procedure that must be followed by this tribunal in the undertaking of investigations and hearing of users’ complaints. Furthermore, this law regulates the ethical behavior, and responsibilities of the veterinary professionals towards their clients, other colleagues, veterinary assistants, natural resources, and professional associations.
Colombia - Transportation - Ley 2138 This law establishes the parameters for the substitution of vehicles of animal traction in Colombia, and standards that promote the welfare of horses and cattle that are used for this purpose. It also offers the necessary guarantees to those who derive their livelihood from this type of vehicles so they can access social transformation programs. Vehicles of animal traction are to be substituted by motor vehicles that are ready to circulate, are in new condition, are approved for carrier transportation, and are suitable for the topography and distances of the corresponding municipality.
District, municipal and departmental authorities are in charge of carrying out the substitution programs for animal-drawn vehicles, except in cases where they are intended for rural transport in municipalities whose geographical condition does not allow other means for tourist, agricultural, livestock, forestry, and sports activities. Replacement programs are to be financed with departmental, municipal, and district funding. This law gives local governments 10 months from its promulgation to complete a census with 100% of the data on animal-drawn vehicles and their owners.

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