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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Animals definitively recognized as "sentient beings" in France

by Diana Saliceti,  Libération,, 28/1/2015Translated by Jenny Bright, Tlaxcala
The French National Assembly has finally recognized this right to the beasts, at the end of two years of debate.

Une avancée qui concerne les chats comme les souris.
An advance that concerns mice and cats alike. (Photo Julien Stratenschulte. AFP)
Animals, sentient beings? This is the opinion of Parliament which has just recognized this Wednesday their status of " living beings endowed with sensibility".  This recognition closes the debate sent back and forth for months: the Senate and the National Assembly disagreed on this issue, but it is the MPs who had the last word. The Assembly has passed the bill on final reading regarding the modernization and simplification of the law. A text which included the status and good treatment of animals.
It all started more than two years ago, with a petition launched by the association 30 Million Friends and signed by nearly 800 000 people, including many intellectuals. The Senate had removed last Thursday the precision of "living beings endowed with sensibility" granted by the Assembly to the animals in October. It was restored on Wednesday. The new section of the Civil Code (515-14) seals the new status of the animals which are no longer considered personal property (Article 528). Thus, the intrinsic value of the animal is considered over its market value and heritage value.
"At Last! Animals are recognized as living and sentient beings by the Civil Code, rejoices Reha Hutin, president of the foundation 30 Million friends.  This historic turning places France at the head of the most advanced nations in the field of civil law, as it defines the animal positively for himself, not as a shell, like Germany, Switzerland and Austria in particular, who consider an animal only as a thing. We can be proud of this reform for progress and humanism, won after decades of struggle and nearly a year of debate in Parliament."
Some UMP members tried to the end, without success, to delete Article 1 of the bill, fearing "an "indictment" of breeding and production, or even meat consumption" or threats to wolf hunting, other forms of hunting and "legal disputes" penalizing laboratories and slaughterhouses".

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