Conscientious objection

Turkey falling short on conscientious objection says EU Commissioner

The Turkish government has been criticised by an EU Commissioner for omitting conscientious objection reform from its package of reforms designed to align Turkish legislation with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.

European Commissioner Stefan Füle said on April 12th, “While I understand the focus of the Fourth Judicial Reform package is on compliance with European Court of Human Rights rulings, I note with regret the omission of conscientious objection in the package”.

Special Rapporteur calls for the recognition of conscientious objection in Cyprus

The UN Human Rights Council's Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, has highlighted issues with conscientious objection to military service in the Republic of Cyprus and the northern Turkish-administered region.

Turkmen complainants tortured

The cases of ten Turkmen Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors are being considered by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The complainants, led by Navruz Nasyrlaev, filed complaints of torture and violation of their rights to freedom of religion or belief with the UN Human Rights Committee on 3 September 2012.

These complaints have noted that in the Seydi Labour Camp - where most conscientious objectors (COs) are held - COs have regularly been subjected to spells in the punishment cell, whilst some have been brutally beaten.

Regression in Greece

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Over the past months, there has been a dramatic upswing in the persecution of conscientious objectors in Greece. All of those listed below have already been tried or imprisoned, some over twenty years ago, and they now face further legal action against them.

These cases include

OHCHR publishes 'Conscientious objection to military service'

The Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights has published a guide to applicable international standards and jurisprudence relating to conscientious objection to military service.

It is designed as a guide for 'State officials who are responsible for implementing laws, administrative decrees or regulations relating to conscientious objection to military service, as well as Members of Parliament and Government officials who may be involved in drafting laws or administrative decrees or regulations on this subject.'

Natan Blanc: Why I will not join the Israeli military

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Natan Blanc is caught in a cat and mouse game with the Israeli authorities: he is being repeatedly released from prison, and then detained again after he refuses to be enlisted in the Israeli army. Here's why he's doing it:

Joint Public Statement - Greece: When will conscientious objectors stop being persecuted?

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New trial for 44 year-old conscientious objector by military court

Nikolaos Karanikas Solidarity 6 March 2013Nikolaos Karanikas Solidarity 6 March 2013

Conscientious Objection as a Strategy

Conscientious objection is perhaps more often seen as a moral imperative than as a strategy. However, in countries with active conscription, there can be different ways of avoiding or delaying military service. Some people gain a medical discharge. Others flee, emigrate, choose professions that are exempt from call up, or bribe officials.

Cyprus: Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, December 2012

Human Rights Council, Twenty-second session, Agenda item 3

Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt: Addendum - Mission to Cyprus


Find the full report on the website of the Office of the High Commission of Human Rights here.

Greek conscientious objector on trial for 'desertion'

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Nikos KaranikasNikos Karanikas


Update 14 June:

  • Nikos' trial has been postponed to 2 July


Update 11 June:

  • Nikos Karanikas was arrested in Thessaloniki again. He was later released, but will still be tried at a later date.


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