GREECE: Conscientious objectors boycott the Conscience Examination Committee

In December 2016, the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors called on conscientious objectors (COs) in Greece to boycott the Conscience Examination Committee, which considers CO applications under the authority of the Ministry of Defence. In their statement, the Association said "The existence of a committee, which, like another Holy Inquisition, interrogates the conscientious objectors, violates any sense of the protected right to freedom of conscience."

The association also said that the Committee, by collecting various information from the applicants throughout the application process, functions as an institution profiling people based on their political beliefs as well as other affiliations.

Citing serious rights violations of COs recognised by many international human rights organisations including the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Human Rights Committee, and the European Court of Human Rights, the Association called on the Greek Government to abolish the Conscience Examination Committee.

The same week, three COs responded to the Association's call to boycott the Committee and refused to be examined by it. As part of their protest, the COs submitted a common declaration of conscientious objection to the Committee, including their refusal to be part of the current procedure, and did not respond the Committee's questions.

The CO Association made a solidarity statement with the three COs and condemned the hostile behaviour of the Committee to the COs. In their statement, the Association called on the Greek Government to recognise the applicants as COs without any examination as such and repeated their call to abolish the Conscience Examination Committee.

Source: War Resisters' International, Call to boycott the Conscience Examination Committee, 18th January 2017; War Resisters' International, Solidarity with the 3 conscientious objectors who refused to be examined by the Conscience Examination Committee, 18th January 2017.