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|Sentencia C-041, 2017||Sentencia C-041 is one of the most important court decisions on bullfighting. On this occasion, the court held unconstitutional Article 5 of Ley 1774 of 2016 that referred to the Article 7 of the Statute of Animal Protection. Article 7 contains the seven activities that involve animals for entertainment that are exempted from the duty of animal protection. The practices permitted correspond to rejoneo, coleo, bullfighting, novilladas, corralejas, becerradas and tientas (all variations of bullfighting), cockfighting and all the related practices. Even though the court held that the legislature had fallen into a lack of constitutional protection towards animals, and stated that bullfighting was cruel and inhumane, it deferred the effects of its sentence and gave Congress a two-year period to decide whether bullfighting and the other exception established in Article 7 of the Statute of Animal Protection will continue to be legally allowed. If after this period, the Congress has not legislated on the matter, decision C-041, 2017 will take full effect and bullfighting along with all the practices established in Article 7 will be considered illegal.|
|Legal Framework of Bullfighting and Societal Context in Colombia||This essay provides an overview of the current situation and the legal framework regarding bullfighting in Colombia. The Spanish conquest of Latin America dramatically transformed cultural practices. Spanish heritage was brought with the colonization of the South American countries and with it the cultural practices of bullfighting that carries a strong element of tradition in the Hispanic culture. The evolution of laws and court decisions regarding bullfighting have been dramatically altered in recent years. Today, the position of the Colombian Constitutional Court is aimed at the abolishment of the practice. However, the Colombian Congress’ position regarding bullfighting is not as clear. Tradition has been one of the main arguments in the justification of bullfighting. However, it is important to understand that the current debate focuses on whether bullfighting should be regulated or abolished.|
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
(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 8430, 1993||Resolution 8430, 1993 of the Colombian Ministry of Health, establishes scientific, technical, and administrative norms for investigation in the health field. Title V of this resolution regulates the biomedical research on animals.|
|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, LEY 916, 2004, National bullfighting Statute.||Ley 916, or National Bullfighting Statute, declares bullfighting as “a form of artistic expression”. This statute has national scope, and regulates everything concerning the preparation, organization and development of bullfighting, giving a status of legality in the legal system. The Taurine Statute discusses topics such as the characteristics of the bullring, the name of different areas in the ring, and their purpose. It has an extensive glossary explaining the different methods utilized during the different phases of the bullfight, procedures to weaken and kill the bull, the moves of the animal and the bullfighters. This statute defines the name of the weapons and how and when to use them. It notes requirements such as that every bullring stadium must provide medical assistance for the participants, with all least four specialized doctors in every bullfight. While on-site medical care is outlined for the human participants, no veterinarian is required to be present during the execution of the bullfight.|
|Colombia, LEY 9, 1979, Health Code||This law lays out the general rules that are the basis for “the provisions and regulations necessary to preserve, restore and improve sanitary conditions in relation to human health. It also contains the procedures and measures that must be adopted for the regulation, legalization and control of the discharges of waste and materials that affect or may affect the sanitary conditions of the Environment.” In its Article 307, Ley 9 establishes that the slaughter of animals for human consumption can only be done in authorized slaughterhouses.|
|Colombia, LEY 84, 1989, Statue of Animal Protection||Ley 84 is the National Statute of Animal Protection in Colombia. Ley 84 establishes the general duties of humans towards animals. Among these duties includes the duty to provide animals with enough food, water and medicine to guarantee their well-being; the duty to provide animals with appropriate space so they can move adequately; and the duty to provide appropriate shelter. Article 7 contains the exceptions to the duty to protect animals, meaning that the practices listed in this section are legal under the current legal system even though they might be inherently cruel. This exceptions correspond to the different variations and forms of bullfighting rejoneo, coleo, las corridas de toros, novilladas, corralejas, becerradas y tientas, and cockfighting. Ley 84 also regulates the slaughter of animals for non-consumption, animals in experiments and research, animal transportation, as well as hunting and fishing, resources, penalties, legal competency, and procedures to follow in regards to this law.|