There's positive news in this edition of our CO-Update, with Finland's discrimination of non-Jehovah's Witness COs being highlighted recently. Our affiliate there sees this as an important step in the struggle to abolish conscription as a whole.
Specially written for this edition is an article about trends in conscription around the world. For many years, it looked like obligatory military service was on the way out. But in the last five years, the picture has changed: Norway has extended conscription for women; Sweden has reintroduced conscription for all; Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and Kuwait have reintroduced conscription for men after short hiatuses; Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have introduced conscription for the first time. We look at why governments are turning to compulsion in filling their armies, and what this means for pacifist movements.
Changes are also threatened in Armenia, where students recently went on strike to protest proposed law changes that would make it harder for students to have their period of military service postponed whilst they study. This comes just after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of conscientious objectors who were wrongly imprisoned for refusing military service before the rules around Armenia's alternative service were changed in 2013.
In Paraguay, activists have rejected the creation of the National Council of Conscientious Objection, declaring that the Council is not constitutional and they do not recognise its authority.
In Turkmenistan, for the first time since 2014, courts have handed down prison terms on young men refusing to perform compulsory military service on religious grounds.
We also include a press release following the recent meeting of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection in the buzzer zone between north and south Cyprus.
WRI has a commitment to sharing informing and educating people about conscientious objection around the world, to help people support and campaign for CO rights. To this end, we host a unique resource: the World Survey of Conscientious Objection and Conscription. In the last few months the reports on Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Colombia, Germany, Portugal and Venezuela have been updated. There's also a piece about the 2014 change in conscription law in Venezuela, and the impacts of it.