A citizens’ initiative instigated by the Finnish Animal Rights Law Society calling for the protection of non-human animals to be written into the Finnish constitution has garnered the required 50,000 signatures to be debated in the Finnish Parliament.
The initiative proposes writing new laws on issues such as safeguarding the fundamental rights of non-human animals, protecting the rights of wild animals and animals that depend on human care, and banning harmful breeding of non-human animals.
The initiative states, “The interests and individual needs of animals must be taken into account in all private and public activities that have a significant impact on their living conditions or chances of survival”
Visa Kurki, vice president of the Finnish Animal Rights Law Society, said, “The constitution protects animals in countries such as Germany and Brazil, but such protection has not been seen in Finland. As it stands, the Finnish constitution does not mention animals at all.”
On 27th August 2023, no more signatures would be collected, but the critical amount has already been achieved. Then the number of signatures will have to be verified and the signatures approved before it can be submitted to Parliament.
Other countries have achieved what many Finnish citizens want. Ecuador was the first country in the world to give rights to Nature thanks to its new constitution approved in 2008. The Constitutional Court had already ruled in December 2021 that a mining exploration project in a protected forest had to be blocked because it violated the rights of nature. Other countries have followed suit, such as Colombia, Bolivia, New Zealand, and Bangladesh. But it is believed that the first time that a court has applied this right to a particular wild animal, as opposed to an ecosystem or a species, was in a 2022 landmark legal case when Ecuador’s High Court ruled that a wild woolly monkey called Estrellita possessed distinct legal rights, including to exist, develop her innate instincts and be free from disproportionate cruelty, fear, and distress.