Angie Vega (2022)
Argentina is a country located in the southern side of South America. It is the second-largest country in South America and the eighth-largest country in the world. It is organized under a federal system, divided into 23 provinces and one autonomous city, Buenos Aires, which is the country’s capital. Buenos Aires and the 23 provinces have their own constitutions. Argentina is a civil law country, which means that codes are the main source of law. These codes contain all the principles that judges have to abide by when making a decision. Judges do not have to follow judicial precedent, as prior decisions are not considered binding for all.
As one of the biggest red meat producers in the world, Argentina has an extensive list of laws and regulations that aim to regulate subjects such as animal health, cattle production, humane transport, slaughter facilities, and stunning methods. It also has the National Program of Organic Production and the National Police for animal health. Animal health is considered a topic of national interest.
Argentina is one of the leading countries in the region when it comes to animal protection laws and animal rights. The first animal protection law "Ley 2.786," commonly known as “Ley Sarmiento” was passed in Argentina in 1954, established that animals could be victims, but created lenient punishment for acts of cruelty against animals. This law was replaced in 1956 by "Ley 14.346" or “Ley Peron,” which established jail time for those who committed cruel acts against animals, and is still valid to this day. The first societies for the protection of animals were created back in the XIX century in Buenos Aires (1882) and Rosario (1886) as well. The prohibition of bullfighting and cockfighting were also some of the major accomplishments for animal protection of this century.
Article 41 of the National Constitution establishes that everyone has the right to enjoy a healthy environment. Natural and cultural heritage, as well as biological diversity, are part of it, and the authorities and all citizens have the duty to protect it. It can be said that under this article, animals are tacitly protected.
Interestingly, animals are not considered sentient beings by the law. Particularly, the Civil and Commercial code in its article 227 defines animals as “movable objects” that can move by themselves or can be moved by an external force. However, Argentina is a pioneer in the animal rights movement. It was the first country to judicially declare an orangutan (Sandra) and a chimpanzee (Cecilia) subject of rights through two separate legal actions. Sandra was granted legal rights through an “amparo,” whereas Cecilia, was granted a writ of habeas corpus.
Animal mistreatment and cruelty are considered misdemeanors under the criminal code and Ley 14346 and can be reported to the police or to the prosecutor’s office by any person. This law also prohibited cockfighting in 1886. Even though, animal cruelty is considered a misdemeanor, under Ley 14.346, judges have repeatively held that animals are subjects of rights. In 2011, the “National Program for Responsible Ownership and Health of Dogs and Cats” is created.
Argentina has special legislation protecting specific species. It has statutes for the protection of wild fauna, rheas, vicuñas, and jaguars. Dog racing is also prohibited in the entire territory, and Andean deer are considered natural monuments. When it comes to cetaceans, Argentina has a number of laws granting them special protection. For instance, “Ley 25577” prohibits cetacean hunting and intentional capture in the entire territory; “Ley 25052” prohibits the hunting or capture of killer whales using fishing nets or forced stranding; and “Ley 23094” declares Southern Right Whales national natural monuments.
Argentina is also part of various international treaties and conventions such as the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterbird Habitat, Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, and CITES.
Finally, Argentina is one of the countries opening the door to the legal recognition of the “multispecies family.” In an unprecedented case in this country, a criminal judge declared that a family dog named “Tita” was a nonhuman person and a non-human daughter to her family, who was a multispecies family. Tita was shot and killed by an on-duty police officer in 2020. Even though the charges were set aside and the police officer that shot Tita was acquitted in 2022, the tribunal did not mention the status of Tita as a member of her multispecies family in its reasoning setting aside the verdict.