Joonas Norrena, a 20 year-old conscientious objector from Imatra, Finland, has been sentenced to 179 days of home detention for "refusal of conscription" (asevelvollisuudesta kieltÃytyminen) on 26 November 2012 by Kymenlaakso District Court. He had refused to do military service in July 2012 in VekaranjÃ¤rvi garrison in Southeastern Finland.
Joonas Norrena said in his refusal declaration that he does not want to have anything to do with the military, and cannot understand why Finland still maintains the conscription system. He argues that 'reducing the number of soldiers and weapons as the only way to lasting peace'. He would be willing to do civilian service if it were as long as the shortest military service, and had no connections to conscription system and national defence. At the moment in Finland, however, substitute service lasts 362 days, whereas the shortest service time in military is 180 days.
The UN Commission on Human Rights decalred that any alternative service required of conscientious objectors in lieu of compulsory military service must be compatible with the reasons for the objection, of a civilian character, in the public interest and not of a punitive nature e.g. in its duration (Resolution 1998/77, OP4.). The length of the substitute service in Finland is punitive.
Furthermore, in Foin v France (1999) the Human Rights Committee established its position that any difference in length must be “based on reasonable and objective criteria, such as the nature of the specific service concerned, or the need for a special training in order to accomplish that service”(Foin v France, Communication No. 666/1995) CCPR/C/D/666/1995, 9 November 1999, para. 10.3).
House arrest has been possible for total objectors in Finland since November 2011. The prisoner must wear an electronic ankle bracelet and is allowed to work or study outside home during the sentence, but otherwise must stay at home. Since its introduction home detention has been used frequently for total objectors, however some have been imprisoned.
International pressure is important at this stage, since Joonas' sentence has not yet started. War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Tapani Katainen, or to Finnish embassies abroad. A protest email can be sent at http://www.wri-irg.org/node/20486. A list of Finnish embassies can be found here.
War Resisters' International calls for Joonas Norrena's sentence to be quashed.
War Resisters' International