- Lithuania does not recognise the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.
- Should conscription again be
enforced, a genuinely civilian substitute service for conscientious
objectors will not be available.
Conscription is enshrined in Article
139 of the 1992 Constitution, which says: “Citizens of the
Republic of Lithuania must perform military or alternative national
defence service according to the procedure established by law”.
It is further regulated by the 1996 Law on National Conscription
On 13 March 2008, the Lithuanian
Parliament passed a new law “On the Principles of Organisation of
the Lithuanian Armed Forces”, which provides for parliament to
set the number of conscripts to be recruited on a year by year bases,
with the aim to suspend conscription (a 'zero' quota).
On 26 March 2008, Parliament asked the Constitutional Court to
investigate whether this is constitutional, and the Constitutional
Court decided on 3 April 2009 that this procedure does not conflict
with the Lithuanian constitution.
Conscription has in fact been
suspended on 15 September 2008. The last conscripts left the
Lithuanian Armed Forces on 1 July 2009.
For those called up before 15
September 2008, the length of military service was 12 months, and 6
months for university and college graduates.
All men between the ages of 19 and
26 are liable for military service, should conscription be enforced.
Reservist obligations apply up to the age of 35.
All male citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, upon reaching 16 years of age, enter in a military
register at the local territorial military office and are issued a draftee’s certificate.
According to the announcement on the
suspension of conscription, no medical examination of those
registered will take place. It can therefore be assumed that
potential draftees, upon reaching 19 years of age, no longer have to
appear at a local territorial military office within a 45-day period,
which starts 30 days prior to the draftee’s 19th birthday
and ends 15 days after the birthday.
The number of young men being
drafted into the military was already going down. In 2007, only 2,738
men joined the military as conscripts (compared to a total strength
of 7,170 professional soldiers).
This number was to go down to only 2,000 by 2011.
The announcement of 15 September 2008 brought the suspension of
Pursuant to legislation of the Republic of Lithuania only citizens of the
Republic of Lithuania who have attained the age of 18 can be
voluntarily accepted into active military service.
to website of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, all Lithuanian citizens
under the age of 35 who did not stand trial in the past can join the
Armed Forces. The initial service period is four years, but can be
There is also the option to join as part-time volunteers. During the course of
service volunteers master a military profession, are sent to
exercises and international missions. Volunteers annually spent the
average of 20 days and nights on exercise.
Conscientious objection for conscripts
As conscription has only been suspended, the laws governing conscription and conscientious
objection are still in place, should conscription again be enforced.
The right to conscientious objection
is enshrined in Article 139 of the constitution. Article 4, paragraph
3, of the Law on National Conscription governs substitute service for
those who do not wish to bear arms on the grounds of religious or
pacifist beliefs. However, the scope of the accepted beliefs is
unclear, and the United Nation Human Rights Committee repeatedly
asked for clarification on the matter.
According to the available
information, a special commission composed of representatives of the
military, doctors and priests decided on applications for
conscientious objection and appropriate “alternative military
service” before the suspension of conscription. The phrasing
“alternative military service” makes it doubtful that this
substitute service was a genuine civilian substitute service.
The Law on National Conscription does not specify if there are time limits for submitting CO
applications. However, the absence of clear legal provisions implies
that serving conscripts and reservists cannot apply for CO status.
Moreover, the Lithuanian government has stated in the past that
applications can only be made before starting military service.
Lithuanian representatives declared
at the meeting of the UN Human Rights Committee in March 2004:
“However, new draft regulations were being prepared which would
make it possible to do alternative service outside the framework of
the national defence system”.
If these new regulations have in fact been passed, and what they
include, is presently not known.
According to Article 23 paragraph 2
of the Law on National Conscription, the length of substitute service
is 18 months. This is one and a half times the length of military
service. In practice, substitute service is not organised and only an
unarmed military service within the armed forces is available.
In 2006 and in 2007, the US State
Department reported that “conscientious objectors may petition
for alternative military service within military structures, but
there is no option for alternative non-military service, despite
requests by members of Jehovah's Witnesses. Persons enrolled in
alternative military service must follow military regulations and
reside on military installations. They receive assignments to work in
nonviolent military roles, such as grounds maintenance, or can work
as unskilled labourers in government health or social care
These reports make it appear unlikely that any new regulations have
been passed, or if so, then that these new regulations led to
Ms. Milašiūte, a member of the
Lithuanian delegation to the UN Human Rights Committee session in
March 2004, “noted that there had been one recent case in which
two Jehovah’s Witnesses, after being denied the right to perform
alternative service, had appealed to the courts and won their case”.
Conscientious objection for professional soldiers
Lithuania does not recognise the right to conscientious objection for
Draft evasion and desertion
Draft evasion and desertion are
punishable under the criminal code.
Evasion of the regular draft or alternative (labour) service is punishable by up to two years'
imprisonment; up to five years' if a conscript deliberately injures
himself, fakes illness, forges documents or avoids performing his
duty in any other way. (article 79)
Evasion of the mobilisation draft for national defence service is punishable by two to five years'
imprisonment. (article 80)
In June 1993 parliament amended the
criminal code, increasing fines for ignoring call-up notices to 80
Litas and increasing the penalty for repeat offenders to up to a
No information on practice is available.