Leatherback Project: Sea Turtles Recognized for Their Legal Rights in Panama


 Armed members of the National Border Service stand watch for the Leatherneck Project to ensure the scientists are protected in an area notorious for drug trafficking.

The passing of the new law allows any Panamanian citizen to be a legal advocate for sea turtles, holding governments, corporations, and individuals accountable for violations of their rights. 

Veelenturf, who was elated by this development, expressed her optimism about the law’s impact.  “We will be able to hold governments, corporations, and public citizens legally accountable for violations of the rights of sea turtles,” she said.

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Panama’s legislation follows Ecuador’s precedent-setting ruling in 2022, where the country’s highest court recognized wild animals as rights-holders under the constitutional provisions for the rights of nature. 

Recognizing wildlife rights

Erica Lyman, a clinical law professor and director of the Global Law Alliance for Animals and the Environment, believes that these progressive legal measures offer hope amidst the ongoing extinction crisis and climate change.