Thursday, May 22, 2008

Court agrees to hear chimp's plea for human rights

Link

His name is Matthew, he is 26 years old, and his supporters hope to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

But he won't be able to give evidence on his own behalf - since he is a chimpanzee.
Animal rights activists led by British teacher Paula Stibbe are fighting to have Matthew legally declared a 'person' so she can be appointed as his guardian if the bankrupt animal sanctuary where he lives in Vienna is forced to close.

An anonymous businessman has offered a substantial amount to cover his care, but under Austrian law only humans are entitled to have guardians.

The country's supreme court has upheld a lower court ruling which rejected the activists' request to have a trustee appointed for Matthew.

So now 36-year-old Miss Stibbe and the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories have filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The insists that the chimp needs legal standing so a guardian can be appointed to look out for his interests - especially if the sanctuary shuts down.

Miss Stibbe, who is from Brighton but has lived in Vienna for several years, says she is not trying to get the chimp declared a human, just a person.

'Everybody who knows him personally will see him as a person,' she said.