Monkeys could be given 'fundamental rights' under law as Switzerland holds historic vote

MONKEYS could be given "fundamental rights" in parts of Switzerland.

People in Basel in the country's north are set to decide if their constitution should be changed to allow for "fundamental rights to life for non-human primates".

The vote was triggered by animal rights group Sentience Politics, who gathered 100,000 signatures supporting the change.

The group claims monkeys are "highly-complex beings, possessing an intrinsic, essential interest in living a life of bodily and mental integrity".

A court in Basel dismissed a complaint against the proposed vote, and Switzerland's top court rejected a further appeal.

The vote was opposed by state and city governments, who claimed giving rights to monkeys would violate the country's federal laws.

In a statement, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court said: "In principle, cantons can go further than the protections guaranteed by the federal consitution.

"The initiative does not ask that federal rights accorded to humans be extended to animals, but is asking for the introduction of specific rights for non-human primates.

"While unusual, this does not itself contradict the superior law."

Sentience Politics said they were "thrilled" that the vote was given the all clear, ATS news agency reported.

A date for the vote is yet to be set.

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