COLOMBIA: Conscientious objector Andrés Daniel Giraldo detained by military


On 1 November, declared conscientious objector Andrés Daniel Giraldo has been detailed by the military. He was travelling on the Bogota-Medellin road, when he was stopped by a squad of soldiers at Facatativa, and asked for his military papers. As a declared conscientious objector, Andrés Daniel Giraldo does not have any military papers. However, the soldiers did not understand his arguments and detained him. They brought him to the military base of Guaduas - Timate, where he has been kept at the time of writing. However, he will be transferred to the 38th infantry battalion Miguel Antonio Caro in Facatativa, his "designated" unit, where he will be medically examined. It will then be decided if he will be ordered to serve in this battalion, or somewhere else.
Andrés Daniel Giraldo was able to talk by phone to activists of his group, Red Juvenil de Medellin. According to information from Red Juvenil, he is calm and determined to disobey any orders from the military.

According to Colombian and international law, recruitment by detention as practised in his case is illegal, although it is common practise in Colombia. The present detention of Andrés Daniel Giraldo is therefore arbitrary.

Although Art. 18 of the 1991 Constitution states that "(...) freedom of conscience is guaranteed. No one will be obliged to act against their conscience", Colombia does not recognise the right to conscientious objection.
According to a 1945 Law, those who fail to respond to call-up are considered remiss (remiso) and cannot enter university or obtain a passport (Ley 1a de 1945). Those who refuse to perform military service are considered deserters.
The penalties for desertion are prescribed by arts. 115 to 117, Chapter III, of the Military Penal Code. Art. 115 prescribes a penalty for desertion of six months' to two years' imprisonment. If the desertion occurs in wartime, during a domestic uprising or public unrest or while in the vicinity of rebel forces the punishment may be doubled (art. 116). If a deserter returns voluntarily within eight days of desertion the penalty may be reduced by a half (art. 117).

The present situation of Andrés Daniel Giraldo is unclear. It is not know whether he is still at the base of Guaduas - Timate, or whether he has been transferred to his unit in Facatativa. However, it is clear that he is at danger of being forced to perform military service, or to be prosecuted for disobeying orders. There is a high risk of verbal or physical abuse.

War Resisters' International calls for urgent protest faxes to Mayor General Hernando Alonso Ortiz Rodriguez, second in command of the Colombian Army, Tel. +57-1-2660225, Fax +57-1-2660243.

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Andrés Daniel Giraldo.

More information will follow as soon as it becomes available.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International
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