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The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection's annual report gives an overview of conscientious objection in Europe this year. Read it here.

Foreword by Friedhelm Schneider, EBCO President

In September 2014 Heiner Bielefeldt, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, speaking at a side event to the Human Rights Council, observed: “Conscientious objection to military service is a specific issue, but not a side issue!”. One year on, in October 2015, the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, for the first time launches its Annual Report “Conscientious objection to military service in Europe 2015” in Geneva, immediately before the Session of the UN Human Rights Committee which will deal with the reports of Greece and the Republic of Korea - two states in which the right of conscientious objection to military service continues flagrantly to be violated.

The European Committee of Social Rights has repeatedly dealt with the issue of the length of substitute service - especially in the cases of Greece and Finland. In recent years, it has taken up the issue on its own in several conclusions on country reports. We publish the relevant parts below (thanks go to the European Buereau for Conscientious Objection):

Estonia

"The Committee previously noted that legislation provided for alternative service to compulsory military service, but sought further clarification on the length of such alternative service.

A solution for Osman Murat Ülke and other conscientious objectors?

The Council of Europe has increased its pressure on Turkey in the case of conscientious objector Osman Murat Ülke. Osman Murat Ülke declared his conscientious objection and burned his call-up papers on 1 September 1995 in Izmir. He was arrested more than a year later - on 7 October 1996 - on charges of Article 155, "alienating the people from the military".

Resolution CM/ResDH(2007)109

Execution of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights
Ülke against Turkey

(Application No. 39437/98, judgment of 24 January 2006, final on 24 April 2006)

The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 46, paragraph 2, of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which provides that the Committee supervises the execution of final judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter “the Convention” and “the Court”);

(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 30 November 2005
at the 948th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)

The Committee of Ministers, having regard to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (“the Court”) of 19 June 2003 in the Hulki Güneş v. Turkey case (application no. 28490/95) transmitted on 19 September 2003 to the Committee for supervision of execution in accordance with Article 46 § 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“the Convention”);

Adopted by the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, on 23 May 2001

Exercise of the right of conscientious objection to military service in Council of Europe member states

Human rights of conscripts

1. The Assembly refers to its Resolution 1166 (1998) on the human rights of conscripts, in which it invites member states to allow conscripts to enjoy civil and social rights and to grant them a status of "citizen in uniform", in strict respect of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Human rights of conscripts

1. In most Council of Europe member states defence is based on national military service and the people’s obligation to serve their country for a period limited by law. These conscripts, like all soldiers, must be regarded as citizens in uniform.2

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