The Supreme Court of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided on 20 February on the constitutionality of pre-military education in Venezuelan schools. Students of the last two years of higher education have to participate in pre--military education as part of the curriculum, based on Article 71 of the Military Service Law (Ley de conscripción y alistamiento militar). The Venezuelan human rights organisation PROVEA brought a case to the Supreme Court, which was first decided in June 2005. The recent decision - as negative as the first one - is the result of an appeal by PROVEA. PROVEA claimed that the obligatory character of pre-military education constitutes a violation of the right to education and the right to freedom of conscience, as guaranteed in the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. However, the court denied any violation of human rights, but sees in pre-military education an "essential part of the development of these students of the Republic, within the conception of the present state". The court pointed out that an effective military contributes to the defence of individual and human rights.
In an independent development, around 500,000 Venezuelans started military training on 4 March 2006, to be part of a military reserve that by summer 2007 will consist of up to 2 million reservists. According to a Guardian article, "so far service in the territorial guard is voluntary. But the Venezuelan parliament is studying proposals to make it obligatory for all Venezuelan adults to join the territorial guard". (The Guardian, 4 March 2006)
Sources: Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, Sala Constitucional, Expediente No 2006-0029, 20 February 2006, Prensa/TSJ: Negada solicitud de revisión de sentencia que declara sin lugar recurso contra la instrucción Premilitar, 24 February 2006.