Ukraine also criticised by Human Rights Committee

Another country scrutinised by the Human Rights Committee in its 88th session was the Ukraine, where the right to conscientious objection is only recognised for religious reasons. The Ukrainian government explains in its report: "Since military service is compulsory in Ukraine, the question of replacing such service by alternative (civilian) service is regulated by the State. To that end, a list has been drawn up and ratified by the Cabinet of Ministers of religious organizations whose doctrines do not permit the use of weapons and, by extension, the performance of military service. In addition to the religious organizations included in the list, the members of religious organizations with comparable religious beliefs are also assigned to perform alternative service. The decision to assign citizens from religious organizations with equivalent beliefs to the performance of such service is taken jointly by the alternative (civilian) service commissions and the Ukrainian State Committee on Religious Affairs or by their local bodies."

"As of 1 January 2005, 2,084 persons had performed such alternative service, 409 of them from the autumn 2004 call-up. With effect from that call-up, the period of alternative service has been reduced from 27 to 18 months and, for persons with higher education, from 18 to 13.5 months."

However, the Human Rights Committee concluded: "The State party should extend the right of conscientious objection against mandatory military service to persons who hold non-religious beliefs grounded in conscience, as well as beliefs grounded in all religions."

Sources: CCPR/C/UKR/6, 11 April 2006; CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 40 OF THE COVENANT, Advanced unedited version, Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee, Ukraine, CCPR/C/UKR/6