Colombia: Conscientious objector accompanied to military barracks

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Related peace activist(s): Gustavo Monroy

On 25th and 26th April a delegation consisting of H.V Greisy Rodriguez, Martín from WRI affiliate Red Juvenil, Niko, a volunteer with Fundación IPO, and Eduardo Sagamoso accompanied Gustavo Monroy to the military barracks at Saravena Arauca, to settle a disciplinary case against Gustavo, following his conscientious objection.

Although the Colombian constitution recognises freedom of conscience and religion in its Article 18, the country does not recognise the right to conscientious objection. Forced recruitment is a common practice in Colombia. At bus stops, in market places, on the street the military pick up youths. Those who cannot prove that they have a military service record or have a valid reason to be exempted, are taken to recruitment centres. They are then dispersed around the country to conflict areas, border areas, forests and swamps to perform military service under very harsh and dangerous conditions - this despite Law No. 48 which states that conscripts are to perform their service in their home areas. Such forms of forced recruitment are officially denied by the armed forces.

They were told to be at the barracks at 8am, but once there were not allowed to enter, and told to return at 2pm. However, only Gustavo and his lawyer H.V. Greisy were allowed to enter, accompanied by a soldier. Once inside, the military put a lot of pressure on Gustavo Monroy, and avoided any formal taking of notes, claiming that the computer did not work. At 6pm, Gustavo was told that the procedure could not be finished on that day, and he was ordered to present himself again on the next day at 8am.

However, in consultation with his lawyer and supporters, Gustavo decided not to follow this order, and did not present himself.

Sources: Emails from Martin Rodriguez and Gustavo Monroy, 26 and 27 April 2006

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