Serpaj rejects configuration of National Council of Conscientious Objection

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The Peace and Justice Service of Paraguay (Serpaj) calls for the abolition of Law 4033, for violating various Articles of the National Constitution. In addition, Serpaj rejects the creation of the National Council of Conscientious Objection (CNOC) and does not acknowledge it as a valid authority.

Serpaj reported in a statement on Thursday that the creation of CNOC violates Articles 129 and 24 of the National Constitution – given that Law 4033 of the year 2010 states that young people who declare themselves as conscientious objectors justify and explain their reasons for applying for the card and for not succumbing to obligatory military service.

On one hand, Serpaj explains that paragraph 5 of Article 129 of the National Constitution indicates that the objector need only present their declaration of objection, without needing to justify their reasons before the Council. They also explain that Article 8 of Law 4013 establishes that among the services of the Council is to declare the origin of conscientious objection to obligatory military service as provided by the declarant. For Serpaj, this point authorises the National Council of Conscious Objection to investigate the reasons for which a young person declares themselves as an objector and thus determine if their
reasons are valid.

In this sense, Serpaj reports that Law 4013 violates Article 24 of the Constitution (the Magna Carta) which states: “Nobody can be disturbed, investigated or forced to declare their reasons for objection based on their beliefs or ideology.” In addition, they claim that this said law confirms the right to conscientious objection within 20 days of being drafted into the military.

However, Serpaj reinforces that objection is a human right and therefore characterises itself as being imprescriptible (with no time limit). The National Council of Conscientious Objection was established, as stipulated by Law 4013, to regulate and accelerate the process for conscientious objectors. Moreover, they had announced that a fine could be issued to those who have not complied to obligatory military service or applied for the conscientious objector card within the required time.

In the missive, it refers to Article 21 in Law 4013 as retroactive in stating that all current objectors are obliged to perform a civilian service or pay a sum of 5 minimum wages - the equivalent of approximately 345.000 Paraguayan Guaraní - in order to avoid community service.

On the other hand, the Council was formed by the Commissioner of the State, the Presidents of the Human Rights Commissions of Congress, a civilian representative of the conscientious objectors (chosen from among those who have voiced their objection in the last 5 years), and a representative of the National Ministry of Defence.

Serpaj reveals that the recent integration of the Ministry of Defence representative could create an interference of the military jurisdiction in the civil jurisdiction, which twists the nature of the objection.

For all of the reasons expressed, Serpaj Paraguay urges young people not to present their declarations of conscientious objection before the Council.

In addition, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) claims that it does not recognise the National Council of Conscientious Objection as a valid authority because to support the configuration of the said agency would be a violation of the National Constitution. “This can lead to the commission of abuse and violations of young people’s human rights by the authorities and institutions of the State,” Serpaj concludes.

Serpaj is an international human rights organisation which, for 20 years, has been working on the dissemination of the right to conscientious objection of obligatory military service.

Translation of Serpaj rechaza conformación de Consejo Nacional de Objeción de Conciencia

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Translation: Olivia McIntyre

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Translation: Olivia McIntyre