- Sweden does not recognise the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.
Swedish defence policy is based on the concept of total defence, which means
that all inhabitants are obliged to participate in national defence
in case of emergency or war. Total defence consists of military
service, civil defence service and general service. Conscription only
takes place into military service and civil defence service. General
service does not involve any form of training, but means that one may
be called up for service in time of war or emergency.
Conscription in Sweden will be suspended on 1 July 2010. Mandatory enlistment will
continue until June 2010, and those still serving on 1 July will have
the choice to continue their service on a voluntary basis. From 1
January 2011 on, the present system of basic military training will
be replaced with three month voluntary military training, after which
a longer training with the aim of a long-term contract will be
According to the 1994 Swedish Act on Defence (Lag om
all Swedish citizens (both men and women) and all foreigners living
in Sweden are liable for general service between the ages of 16 and
70. General service does not involve any form of training, and is an
obligation which may only be imposed during "periods
of intensified preparedness".
Presently, before the suspension of conscription, all men between the ages of 18
and 47 are liable for military service (Article 5 Swedish Act on
Defence). Conscription for military service, however, applies
essentially only to men between the ages of 18 and 24 and it is also
open to women on a voluntary basis.
Most conscripts undergo military service of 2 periods totalling around 11
months. The conscript may then apply to undergo a third period of
training concentrating on international missions.
The conscripts who are accepted for the third period are employed on the
basis of a contract with a salary instead of a daily conscription
allowance. The employee under contract is on standby, together with
the unit, for possible interventions or for carrying out a foreign
In the current system, 8 000 people out of an annual cohort of
120,000 Swedish citizens are called in to carry out military
With the suspension of conscription on 2010 the Total Defence Service Act
will still remain in force and can be applied if required by military
preparedness. In that case, compulsory military service will be
gender-neutral, which means men and women will be conscripted.
According to the website of the Swedish Armed Forces, one of the main tasks of
the Armed Forces is to train soldiers for international missions.
International service is not something a conscript can be forced to
do during conscription, but is subject to voluntary choice after
compulsory military service has been completed.
The Swedish Army also has its own recruitment website
especially aimed at attracting officers.
Conscientious objection for conscripts
The right to conscientious objection has been legally recognised since 1920. Its present legal basis is the 1994 Act on Defence, which replaced the 1966 Non-Military Service
According to the law CO status is to be granted if someone has "such a personal serious conviction
about the use of weapons against another person so that this
conviction is inconsistent with a combatant role"(Chapter 3
According to the government there is
no separate legal provision for the right to conscientious objection
With the discussion about an end of
conscription, and the low rate of call-up for military service, the
numbers of conscientious objectors went down. While more than 2,000
people applied for conscientious objection every year until the
mid-1990s, in 2005 and 2006 there were only 160 and 128 CO
The institutions providing non-military basic training for
conscientious objectors in Sweden are closing down due to lack of
funds. As a consequence, conscientious objectors in Sweden cannot get
basic training and do a substitute service, and will be placed in the
Conscientious objection for professional soldiers
Sweden does not recognise the right
to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.
The rules for leaving the Armed
Forces prematurely are presently not known.
Draft evasion and desertion
Draft evasion and desertion are
punishable under the 1994 Act on Defence and the 1995 Ordinance on
Discipline of the Total Defence System. The same punishments are
applicable in all forms of service.
Failure to appear at medical
examination is punishable by a fine. Failing to respond to a call-up
for service is punishable by a fine or up to a years' imprisonment.
If the misdeed is considered a serious crime imprisonment can last
from six months to four years (Total Defence Service Act, Chapter
A number of people are still jailed every year for refusing to carry
out compulsory military service.
Some 41 men were jailed in 2006 for refusing to attend the armed
forces recruitment days, failing to turn up to military service or