In the past two months, Norway has extended compulsory military service to women, Greece has continued in its download slope towards greater persecution of COs, and Israeli CO Natan Blanc has finally been released from the cycle of imprisonment, release and call up that he had been subject to for many months.
As we reported in the previous CO Update, conscientious objectors in Greece have been subject to new cycles of detention and trial since the beginning of the year. Last time, we reported on the situations of Nikos Karanikas, Charalabos Akrivopoulos, Menelaos Exioglou and Dimitris Sotiropulos.
Those of you on our CO-Alert email list will have been aware of the situation of Natan Blanc. After ten imprisonments, Israeli CO Natan Blanc was exempted from military service. The Israeli military's Exemption Committee declared Natan unfit for duty on 30th May, six months after he initially reported to the induction centre and declared his refusal.
Together, we in No to Compulsory Military Service (Egypt) and New Profile (Israel) confirm our support of peace and of conscientious objectors in both countries, re-affirming the human right to freedom of conscience, faith and self-determination.
Armenia's Ministry of Justice has presented to parliament amendments to provide for a substitute 'civilian' service. These have now passed all their readings, and therefore the amendments to the 2003 Alternative Service Law and to the 2003 Law on Implementing the Criminal Code should be enacted.
Sheila Keetharuth, the UN Human Rights Councils Special Rapporteur on Eritrea has published a report on Eritrea in which she blames decades long conscription and "excessive militarisation" for leaving Eritreans with little option but to risk leaving, with more than 4 000 fleeing every month. In a report to the rights council, Keetharuth said rampant violations of citizens' rights in Eritrea were "triggering a constant stream of refugees". The UN refugee agency has registered more than 300 000 Eritreans refugees in neighbouring countries, she added. Her mandate has now been extended for one more year.
Turkey's conscientious objectors founded their first association on May 18, during the week of International Conscientious Objectors Day. The association will be open to all who refuse the compulsory military drafting for religious, moral or political reason, activists said.
The Turkish state continues to repeatedly punish COs, who face what's known as 'civil death', being at constant risk of re-imprisonment, unable to register a child, leave the country, and facing many other discriminations.
WRI's work on Countering the Militarisation of Youth is also a key part of the Right to Refuse to Kill programme, a natural extension to our work on counter-recruitment and conscientious objection. This work has had a really exciting time recently.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has presented its quadrennial analytical report on conscientious objection to military service to the UN Human Rights Council.
The report looks at new developments, best practice and remaining challenges in terms of CO to military service. It is a good way of discovering the status of conscientious objection around the world today.
A number of NGOs and campaigning organisation made submissions in the formulation of the report, which can be downloaded below.
In the previous month(s), the WRI office issued the following co-alerts:
(a full archive of co-alerts is available at wri-irg.org/news/alerts)
27 June 2013: GREECE: A wave of COs repeatedly punished
30 May 2013: Israel: After 10 imprisonments, CO Natan Blanc to be exempted from military service
13 May 2013: Israel: CO Natan Blanc imprisoned for the tenth time