Right to Refuse to Kill

War Resisters' International's programme The Right to Refuse to Kill combines a wide range of activities to support conscientious objectors individually, as well as organised groups and movements for conscientious objection.

Our main publications are CO-Alerts (advocacy alerts sent out whenever a conscientious objector is prosecuted) and CO-Updates (a bimonthly look at developments in conscientious objection around the world).

We maintain the CO Guide - A Conscientious Objector's Guide to the International Human Rights System, which can help COs to challenge their own governments, and protect themselves from human rights abuses.

Information about how nation states treat conscientious objectors can be found in our World Survey of Conscientious Objection and recruitment.

More info on the programme is available here.

The Syrian Human Rights Network has accused the Syrian regime of arresting civilians for forced army conscription, saying it has documented more than 1,000 cases of arrest for this purpose in the past six weeks alone.

Children are also being recruited by different warring parties, UNICEF say. At least several hundred children were recruited in 2015, and thousands killed or injured in the conflict.

In Cyprus, conscripts deemed to be 'mentally unfit' (here we quote the government source, and apologise for the language) will no longer be able to secure a full discharge but will be required to serve in the army for a period one-third longer than the normal stint, under new legislation designed to deter potential 'draft dodgers'.

Defence minister Christoforos Fokaides told Daily Politis that draftees diagnosed with psychological problems would serve out an alternative service, not at military installations but at defence-related services.

Ukrainian journalist and CO Ruslan Kotsaba is on trial in Ivano-Frankivsk. Ruslan has been in detention for almost a year, charged with treason and obstructing the military. In a video addressed to the Ukrainian President, he declared his refusal to be drafted, saying he would rather go to prison for five years than turn a weapon on his "compatriots in the east". He called on his fellow countrymen to refuse to be drafted. Ukrainian law does allow individuals to refuse military service, but this right is confined to a small group of religious minorities. He could face 15 years in gaol. Observers from DFG-VK were present, and rallied outside the court. The trial is ongoing.

We are working on creating an interactive map of conscription, and the way conscientious objectors are treated in different countries. This will be part of the “World survey of conscription and conscientious objection to military service” project. This interactive map will make information on conscription and objection more accessible and more clear visually, so it may be used for campaigning as well as research.

We have started collecting information through a questionnaire, but still missing contacts in many countries. If you have the relevant information on one of the following countries, please email taya@wri-irg.org: Algeria, Burkino Faso, Cambodia, China, Comoros, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Honduras, Jamaica, Liechenstein, Malaysia, Myanmar,  Samoa, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.

Download as a pdf

Information submitted by the International Fellowship of Reconcilitation and Conscience and Peace Tax International

INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION

Submission to the 115th Session of the Human Rights Committee

REPUBLIC OF KOREA

(Military service, conscientious objection and related issues)

Updated: September 2015. Contact:

Derek BRETT

International Fellowship of Reconciliation

Main Representative to the UN, Geneva

derek.brett@ifor.com

Tel: (41) 77 462 9825

Background: the issue in the Human Rights Committee

In its concluding observations on the Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Korea under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Human Rights Committee expresses its concern “that: (a) under the Military Service Act of 2003 the penalty for refusal of active military service is imprisonment for a maximum of three years and that there is no legislative limit on the number of times they may be recalled and subjected to fresh penalties; (b) those who have not satisfied military service requirements are excluded from employment in government or public organisations and that (c) convicted conscientious objectors bear the stigma of a criminal record,” and recommends: “The State party should take all necessary measures to recognize the right of conscientious objectors to be exempted from military service. It is encouraged to bring legislation into line with article 18 of the Covenant. In this regard, the Committee draws the attention of the State party to the paragraph 11 of its general comment No. 22 (1993) on article 18 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion).”1

Download as a pdf

Information submitted by the International Fellowship of Reconcilitation and Conscience and Peace Tax International

INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION

Submission to the 115th Session of the Human Rights Committee

AUSTRIA

(Military service, conscientious objection and related issues)

Updated: September 2015. Contact:

Derek BRETT

International Fellowship of Reconciliation

Main Representative to the UN, Geneva

derek.brett@ifor.com

Tel: (41) 77 462 9825

SUMMARY: Conscientious objection to military service has been recognised in law for as long as obligatory military service has existed in the modern Austrian state. There are however a number of serious concerns with the details of the current legislative provisions.

Download as a pdf

Information submitted by the International Fellowship of Reconcilitation and Conscience and Peace Tax International

INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION (IFOR)

and

CONSCIENCE AND PEACE TAX INTERNATIONAL

UPR SUBMISSION KYRGYZSTAN JAN/FEB 2015

Contact: Derek Brett

IFOR Main Representative to the UN, Geneva

derekubrett@gmail.com

Executive summary:

This submission focusses on issues of military service and freedom of conscience in Kyrgyzstan. The specific concerns it raises are:

The recognition as conscientious objectors to military service only members of specific religious denominations, and discriminatory features of the alternative service available.

Shortcomings in the 2008 Law on Religious Associations

Militarisation of the secondary education system

Trial of civilians in military courts

Download as a pdf

Information submitted by the International Fellowship of Reconcilitation and Conscience and Peace Tax International

UPR SUBMISSION SINGAPORE 24th SESSION

(Jan/Feb 2016)

1. This submission was prepared in June 2015 on the basis of the latest information available.

Executive summary:

2. This submission focusses on the situation regarding military service and conscientious objection to military service in Singapore. Among the human rights concerns it identifies are:

3. Conscientious objection to military service is not recognised in law or practice. Singapore has not ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), under which this situation would be a clear breach of Article 18. It is however also contrary to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), which Singapore has endorsed.

A conscientious objector in Bolivia, José Miguel Orías, has been recognised as a CO by a court in La Paz, provided he fulfills conditions they have stipulated. The Constitutional Court will now review the decision made in La Paz; this will likely happen within the next six months. 

The Bolivian Minister of Defence has previously publicly rejected the possibility of Bolivia recoginsiing the right of conscientious objection to military service, so the Constitutional Court may mirror his opinion.

The United Nations' Human Rights' Committee have published new concluding observations following the examination of Austria and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as part of the Universal Periodic Review.

The Committee called upon the state of Austria to 'ensure that the length of service alternative to military service required for conscientious objectors is not punitive in nature.'

It demanded that the Republic of Korea:

'(a) Immediately release all conscientious objectors condemned to a prison sentence for exercising their right to be exempted from military service;

(b) Ensure that the criminal records of conscientious objectors are expunged, that they are provided with adequate compensation and that their information is not publicly disclosed; and

(c) Ensure the legal recognition of conscientious objection to military service, and provide conscientious objectors with the possibility to perform an alternative service of civilian nature.

Subscribe to Right to Refuse to Kill