Conscientious objection

Statement of conscientious objectors’ groups from eastern Mediterranean region

We are conscientious objectors from all around the eastern Mediterranean region. Our region has suffered for so long from oppression, injustice, militarisation, military occupations and wars, as well as poverty, illiteracy, hunger and lack of social infrastructure. In this difficult period, when our region seems to fall even more into the chaos of war, we raise a common voice for peace and against militarisation.

We refuse to allow this cycle of violence, initiated by oppressive states and economic interests, to continue; we refuse to be a part of it; we refuse to be enemies with people who just happen to be of a different nationality or religion; we will not be dragged into their wars and armies leading to death and destruction in the region.

'No to Equality in Militarism!'

The Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors have co-signed a statement with feminist collective TO MOV, rejecting the proposal from the Ministry of Defence to effectively extend conscription to some women.

Ukrainian conscientious objector on trial

Ukrainian journalist and CO Ruslan Kotsaba is on trial in Ivano-Frankivsk. Ruslan has been in detention for almost a year, charged with treason and obstructing the military.  In a video addressed to the Ukrainian President, he declared his refusal to be drafted, saying he would rather go to prison for five years than turn a weapon on his "compatriots in the east".

Rights of conscientious objectors in Ukraine threatened

Draft Law 4020 has been adopted by the Ukrainian government. The law, instigated by President Poroshenko, allows the President, in 'special circumstances' e.g. during military mobilisation, to give only one months' notice of the draft. Notice is given in the media.

However, conscientious objectors who wish to apply for an alternative service need to apply two months before their call up. So in theory, if this practice is applied, it may make it impossible to take advantage of the right of alternative service.

Editorial

Stories in this edition of this CO Update remind me of the importance of solidarity with conscientious objectors.

Colombia: FARC announced they will no longer recruit under 18s

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People's Army (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia: FARC) have released the first of an estimated 2,000 child soldiers from within its ranks. Last week, it declared its intention to stop recruiting under 18s.

Cyprus: Longer alternative service for ‘mentally unfit’ conscripts

In Cyprus, conscripts deemed to be 'mentally unfit' (here we quote the government source, and apologise for the language) will no longer be able to secure a full discharge but will be required to serve in the army for a period one-third longer than the normal stint, under new legislation designed to deter potential 'draft dodgers'.

Defence minister Christoforos Fokaides told Daily Politis that draftees diagnosed with psychological problems would serve out an alternative service, not at military installations but at defence-related services.

Ukrainian conscientious objector on trial

Related peace activists: 

Ukrainian journalist and CO Ruslan Kotsaba is on trial in Ivano-Frankivsk. Ruslan has been in detention for almost a year, charged with treason and obstructing the military. In a video addressed to the Ukrainian President, he declared his refusal to be drafted, saying he would rather go to prison for five years than turn a weapon on his "compatriots in the east". He called on his fellow countrymen to refuse to be drafted. Ukrainian law does allow individuals to refuse military service, but this right is confined to a small group of religious minorities. He could face 15 years in gaol. Observers from DFG-VK were present, and rallied outside the court. The trial is ongoing.

Submission on Republic of Korea: Universal Periodic Review, prepared September 2015

Download as a pdf

Information submitted by the International Fellowship of Reconcilitation and Conscience and Peace Tax International

INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION

Submission to the 115th Session of the Human Rights Committee

REPUBLIC OF KOREA

(Military service, conscientious objection and related issues)

Updated: September 2015. Contact:

Derek BRETT

International Fellowship of Reconciliation

Main Representative to the UN, Geneva

derek.brett@ifor.com

Tel: (41) 77 462 9825

Background: the issue in the Human Rights Committee

In its concluding observations on the Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Korea under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Human Rights Committee expresses its concern “that: (a) under the Military Service Act of 2003 the penalty for refusal of active military service is imprisonment for a maximum of three years and that there is no legislative limit on the number of times they may be recalled and subjected to fresh penalties; (b) those who have not satisfied military service requirements are excluded from employment in government or public organisations and that (c) convicted conscientious objectors bear the stigma of a criminal record,” and recommends: “The State party should take all necessary measures to recognize the right of conscientious objectors to be exempted from military service. It is encouraged to bring legislation into line with article 18 of the Covenant. In this regard, the Committee draws the attention of the State party to the paragraph 11 of its general comment No. 22 (1993) on article 18 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion).”1

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