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Update: on December 12, 2014, the State Council's Fourth Chamber invalidated the Third Chamber's decision by revoking defendant's license to capture monkeys on the Amazon. This decision resulted from a "Tutela" filed by the defendants arguing procedural and substantive errors. In its decision, State Council stated that the Third Chamber, Subsection C, had violated the fundamental rights to due process and scientific investigation. Therefore, defendants are allowed to hunt and capture night monkeys in the Amazon so long as they meet the requirements and conditions for granting such licenses established in Resolutions 028 of May 13, 2010, and 0632 of June 29, 2919. This case concerns the monkeys used in scientific research in the Colombian Amazon to create a malaria vaccine.
In 2012, plaintiff, a primatologist, raised before the Administrative Tribunal in Cundinamarca a series of irregularities incurred by the defendant in the capture and treatment of night monkeys (Aotus vociferans). Through a popular action (A constitutional mechanism to protect collective rights), the plaintiff argued that the defendants were violating collective rights such as administrative morality, the existence of ecological balance and the management and rational use of natural resources, and public safety and health. The defendant, "Fundación Instituto de Inmunología de Colombia" (FIDIC), is a scientific institution dedicated to research and scientific study for creating and developing chemically synthesized vaccines. Manuel Elkin Patarroyo, the Director, is a renowned Colombian scientist and the creator of the first vaccine against malaria accepted by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Patarroyo had a license to hunt and capture 800 primates of this species per year for his research against malaria. In her complaint, plaintiff alleged that Patarroyo was illegally trafficking monkeys from Brazil and Peru to Colombian territory, as there was evidence that they were using monkeys from across the border with these countries without complying with legal importation requirements. Furthermore, the plaintiff argued that the defendant was experimenting on monkeys of a different species (Aotus nancymaae) found in Peru and Brazil, for which they did not have the corresponding license. Plaintiff also alleged that specimens of both species were acquired by paying members of native indigenous groups, who captured the animals without permit or supervision from respective authorities. In addition, the plaintiff alleged that governmental authorities did not perform inspections, and there were no records of how many specimens were being used and how they were being treated. Finally, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants released surviving monkeys infected with malaria back into the wild once they were of no use to the laboratory, ignoring the risks that this posed to the ecosystem and indigenous communities. The Administrative Tribunal in Cundinamarca ruled in favor of the plaintiff, revoking the defendant's permit to capture monkeys in the Amazon. Defendants appealed the decision before the Third Chamber of the State Council, which affirmed the revocation of the license. The State Council stated that the defendants had violated the collective rights and affirmed the license revocation to protect the collective rights of wild animals, particularly of the Aotus Vociferans monkeys. This ruling suspended the investigations and ordered disciplinary investigations against the governmental authorities that issued the license. In affirming the tribunal's decision, the court stated: "To the Colombian legislator, animals and plant species (for example, forests, the Amazon, páramos, water sources, resources, etc.) are subject to rights. Therefore, through popular action, any person can request their protection by acting as an unofficial agent of these entities without it being possible to acknowledge that it is a collective-subjective right belonging to society. On the contrary, it is about the express recognition by the Constitution and the Colombian legislator of attributing value in themselves to animals and plant species, for which, in each specific case, the judge must make a judgment by weighting competing interests" (...) "humans can use animals for survival, company, research, work, or recreational activities, but without violating the rights that assist them."
|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.|
|Sentencia C-1192, 2005||Decision C-1192/05 decides on a claim of unconstitutionality against Articles 1, 2, 22 and 80 of the Taurine Regulatory Statute ley 916 of 2004. In this occasion, the court upheld the constitutionality of this law confirming bullfighting as an artistic expression allowed by the Constitution: “A manifestation of Colombia’s diversity, as intangible good that symbolizes one of the many historical-cultural traditions of the Nation.” The Court stated that since bullfighting is a cultural manifestation of the nation, children do not need to be protected from this practice. The Court believes “children should be provided the opportunity to attend these events so that they can learn and judge for themselves if bullfighting is an art form, or an outdated violent practice. For that reason, the statute does not violate the fundamental rights of children. The court also held that bullfighting is not part of the interpretation of Article 12 that corresponds to the prohibition of torture. The text of the norm speaks about violence and cruel treatment as an “anthropological vision of the human being” the court asserts. With this decision, the Constitutional Court affirms that animals, in this case bulls, are not entitled to any rights. The court considered tradition and culture of a higher value than animal protection.|
|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-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-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-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 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.