Conscientious objection

International solidarity and the struggle against militarism in Colombia

27 February 2015: my graduation. Until last December, only those with a libreta militar (which you receive on completion of military service) could graduate.27 February 2015: my graduation. Until last December, only those with a libreta militar (which you receive on completion of military service) could graduate.Dear friends,

Today, Colombia has an historic opportunity to move beyond an armed conflict that has lasted more than 50 years.

I'm part of Acción Colectiva de Objetores y Objetoras de Conciencia (ACOOC: Colombian Collective Action of Conscientious Objectors), and I'm writing to tell you about the progress antimilitarists in Colombia have made — and to ask you to donate to War Resisters' International so that WRI may continue supporting our struggle.

International Statement: Solidarity with the Egyptian Conscientious Objector Mark Nabil Sanad

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Mark Nabil SanadMark Nabil SanadWe, peace and human rights organizations, declare our support and solidarity with No to Compulsory Military Service Movement and with the Egyptian conscientious objector, Mark Nabil Sanad. We condemn the silence of Egypt’s authorities over conscientious objectors’ suffering. We call on the Egyptian authorities to restore his civil rights and to recognize his right to an exemption from the military service based on his conscientious beliefs.

U.S. AWOL Soldier André Shepherd’s Request for Asylum

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The European Court of Justice: Having published its preliminary ruling, what is the next move?

by Rudi Friedrich

On February 26, 2015, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), having been asked by the Munich Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgericht) to submit a decision on U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd’s request for asylum, published its preliminary ruling. As many media observers now believe that Mr Shepherd’s prospects of being granted asylum status are very remote, Rudi Friedrich from Connection e.V. has now summarized his initial thoughts on whether pessimism is indeed justified and what ramifications the court's preliminary ruling will have. (ed.)

Updated version of the International Standards on Conscientious Objection to Military Service leaflet

Find here the updated version of International Standards on Conscientious Objection to Military Service, by Rachel Brett of the Quaker United Nations Office.

This reflects the latest case from the UN Human Rights Committee which found a violation of Article 9 (arbitrary detention) for imprisoning COs, as well as of Article 18.

Decision of the European Court of Justice in the case of U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd

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by Connection e.V. and PRO ASYL

Connection e.V. and PRO ASYL: Much that is negative and little that is positive in the outcome

The network for conscientious objection Connection e.V. and PRO ASYL criticize today’s decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the case of U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd (37) as insufficient and in part quite incomprehensible in its argumentation. “The ruling by the ECJ does not strengthen the position of conscientious objectors and deserters in political-asylum proceedings. The Court avoided some fundamental questions, and answered others unacceptably, contrary to the opinion submitted by the Advocate-General.” said Rudi Friedrich of Connection e.V.

Propaganda, Ukrainian desertion and conscription in Lithuania

Photo: Bem photographyPhoto: Bem photography

After the reinstatement of military conscription last year, the Ukrainian military is undertaking the first of three waves of 'emergency' military conscription. Call ups in this wave started on 20 January, and men aged 25 to 60 are eligible for conscription. By mid-February 75000 people had been called up, of whom 60% will enter service, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko claims.

Conscription had ended in Ukraine in 2013, but was reimposed in 2014.

Turkey: CO sentenced to 15 months and temporary conscription buy-out introduced

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A military court in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas has sentenced conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan, to 15 months in jail. The verdict was transformed to a fine of 9,000 Turkish Liras, for “failing to obey orders.” Mehmet is appealing the verdict Mehmet's struggle against the Turkish military has been running for over a decade.

The verdict disregards a previous ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in which they found on a violation of article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and in addition of article 3 (prohibition of torture or inhuman treatment) of the Convention. The Court ruled that the heavy criminal sanctions imposed on those who did not comply with compulsory military service did not strike a proper balance between the general interest of society and that of conscientious objectors.

Introducing the handbook for conscientious objection

This year, WRI will publish a new handbook for conscientious objection. It's inspired by our Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns, designed by activists for activists, sharing experiences, strategies and inspiration for using conscientious objection as a nonviolent strategy against militarism. Rather than an academic text, it is meant to help CO movements in their campaigns.

Production of the book is being coordinated by Elisa Haf, a Quaker Peace and Social Witness Peaceworker based at WRI (and Forces Watch, whose offices are in the same building as us) for a year. It is being authored by over 30 contributors from Latin America, Europe, North America and the Middle East.

Positive constitutional court decision in Colombia for COs

Campaigners in Colombia have been boosted by a new ruling from the Constitutional Court. In a case brought by two conscientious objectors (COs) who had been forcibly recruited into the military, in January the Court ordered the National Recruitment Office to: resolve applications for CO within 15 days; to publish a booklet that notifies youth of their grounds for exemption, deferral, and their right to CO; and to end the practices of arbitrary detention, including batidas (recruitment raids, usually in public spaces).

Communication No. 2179/2012

United Nations


Distr.: General

14 January 2015


Original: English

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

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