Court in New York rules in case of caged adult male chimps Tommy and Kiko that there is no precedent for apes being considered people. From The Guardian newspaper.
Two chimpanzees that were caged at a trailer lot and at a primate sanctuary don’t have the legal rights of people in New York, an appeals court has ruled.
Nonhuman Rights Project attorney Steven Wise had argued to the appeals court in March that adult male chimps Tommy and Kiko should be granted a writ of habeas corpus, which for people relates to whether someone is being unlawfully detained or imprisoned and should be taken to see a judge.
Chimpanzees, which can walk upright and use sticks and stones as tools to help gather food, are considered to be the closest living relatives of humans. Some have been taught to speak simple human sign language.
But the state Supreme Court’s appellate division, in a ruling that affirmed a lower court’s decision, said there was no legal precedent for chimpanzees being considered people and their cognitive capabilities didn’t mean they could be held legally accountable for their actions.
“Petitioner does not suggest that any chimpanzee charged with a crime in New York could be deemed fit to proceed,” the court said.
The court also said that even if chimps were able to get writs of habeas corpus the writs wouldn’t be applicable with these animals “since petitioner does not challenge the legality of the chimpanzees’ detention, but merely seeks their transfer to a different facility.”
The ruling said that while Wise’s “avowed mission is certainly laudable,” determining the legal rights of animals was better suited to legislators. MORE…