Two major animal rights initiatives rejected in Switzerland – Environment

Worldwide: Two major animal rights initiatives rejected in Switzerland

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On February 13, as millions of people in the United States prepared and watched the Super Bowl, Swiss voters rejected two major animal rights initiatives. As reported (here and here) by SWI – the international unit of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation – the proposed measures included a national ban on animal testing and a measure that would have given non-primate humans certain rights in County. of Basel-City.

Animal testing. The testing ban would have banned testing on animals and humans and would have prohibited the import of any new products developed using these tests. According to the Federal Statistical Office, 44% of the population took part in the vote but, of the votes cast, only 20.9% voted in favor of the ban. The result was probably linked to the recognition that an unqualified ban on all animal testing would have had a negative effect on scientific and medical research. Additionally, Switzerland has one of the most restrictive (and protective) laws regarding the use of animals in research. Chapter 2, Section 6, Article 17 of the Swiss Animal Welfare Act provides that:

“Animal experiments which inflict pain, suffering or harm on animals, cause them anxiety, seriously impair their general well-being or which may in any other way impair their dignity must be limited to the essential minimum. ” [Emphasis added.]

Rights of non-human primates. The Basel-City measure would have amended Article 11 of the canton’s constitution, entitled “guarantees of fundamental rights”, to provide for “the right of non-human primates to life and to physical and mental integrity”. According to a case commentary by lawyers who have advised supporters of the measure, the initiative went to trial in which the Swiss Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the measure could be put to a popular vote because it does not applied only to the government bodies of the township as opposed to individuals. Ironically, all primates in Basel-Stadt are held by private parties instead of government bodies, so the measure, even if passed, would have been symbolic with no real effect. Even as a token gesture, however, voters rejected it.

Proponents of the Basel-City non-primate measure have likened the litigation surrounding it to the “work of the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), which has filed writs of habeas corpus for nonhuman animals in the United States.” However, as we reported, the Non-Human Rights Project has never been successful in getting a US court to grant a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of an animal, although the NhRP has attempted to do so on behalf of chimpanzees and elephants. Moreover, the decision of the Swiss Supreme Court did not bring any innovation on the question of animal “personality”. He simply recognized the point (as did habeas cases in the United States) that granting animal rights, if it is to be done, should be accomplished by legislative or electoral initiatives, by opposition to a judicial decree. Indeed, in Switzerland, as in the United States, animals have no natural rights and cannot have any legal rights unless the legislator says so.

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