2020 Nonhuman Rights Legal Victories

May 21, 2020 marks an incredible victory in the animal liberation movement, and should certainly be recognized as an international holiday.

On May 21, 2020, the Islamabad High Court of Pakistan affirmed the rights of nonhuman beings and ordered the release of Kaavan (an Asian elephant held in solitary confinement at the Marghazar Zoo) to a sanctuary.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah stated that the global pandemic served as “an opportunity for humans to introspect and relate to the pain and distress suffered by other living beings” caused by the “arrogance” of human beings. Chief Justice Minallah stated that “zoos do not serve any purpose except to display their living inmates as exhibits to visitors.”

Chief Justice Minallah cited New York State Justice Alison Tuitt’s February 2020 decision in Happy the elephant’s case (on appeal by the Nonhuman Rights Project, counsel for Plaintiff Happy the elephant): “[Happy] is more than just a legal thing, or property. She is an intelligent, autonomous being who should be treated with respect and dignity, and who may be entitled to liberty.”

The Islamabad High Court is the second court outside the United States to cite Justice Tuitt’s February 2020 ruling, and the latest court to cite the New York Court of Appeals Judge Eugene Fahey’s rejection of chimpanzees’ legal “thinghood” in Nonhuman Rights Project’s chimpanzee rights cases of clients, Tommy, Kiko and Hercules.