Conscientious objection

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On November 22, in Colombia, ACOOC, Justapaz, La TULPA Collective and the Anti-militarist Articulation organized a public forum to discuss the law of conscription that regulates conscientious objection in Colombia after one year of its approval. As part of the event, the organizations released a report that evaluates the implementation of the law and its impact on conscientious objectors. The experiences of three conscientious objectors were presented and strategies were presented to continue promoting conscientious objection among the youth of the country.

1st December, Saturday, is Prisoners for Peace Day. For over sixty years on this day, we've been sharing stories and contacts details of conscientious objectors who have been imprisoned for their refusal to take up arms and resist war.

In August of 2017 the law 1861 of August 4, 2017, that regulates the military recruitment in Colombia was approved. A law that recognized, for the first time, conscientious objection as a cause of exoneration from compulsory military service along with other causes that were already contemplated: being an only child, being married, being a victim of the armed conflict, among others.

At the beginning of March 2018, Ahmet Alcan declared his desertion from the Turkish army, becoming the only person to publicly announce their refusal to take part in the war in Afrin. Ahmet left the army just three days before his deployment. “Together with me two other soldiers were called up. It seems that they have to take part in the operation in Afrin.

On 20th August, Morocco’s ministerial council, chaired by King Mohammed VI, approved a draft law reintroducing compulsory military service for under 25s. If passed in parliament, both men and women aged 19 to 25 will be subject to a 12-month mandatory military service - which was abolished by the King in 2006.

Courts in Turkmenistan continue to imprison conscientious objectors. Since June, six more conscientious objectors have been imprisoned: one in June, three in July and two in August. This adds to two other conscientious objectors imprisoned in January this year.

There are now eight conscientious objectors from Turkmenistan -all Jehovah's Witnesses aged 18 to 24- known to be imprisoned from one to two years for refusing compulsory military service on religious grounds.

18-year-old Emil Mehdiyev repeatedly expressed willingness to perform a civilian alternative to compulsory military service. Instead, he was given a criminal conviction, a one-year suspended prison term, and will be under probation for one year. Seven similar criminal cases against other young men are with Prosecutor's Offices.

The organisers of the conference, Eritrea and the Ongoing Refugee Crisis, has published a new booklet: Eritrea: A Country Under the Sway of a Dictatorship. The publication provides a comprehensive overview of the situation in the country, the situation of Eritrean refugees in Europe and elsewhere, as well as introducing their initiatives and activities.

Last Thursday, in a landmark decision, South Korea’s Constitutional Court ordered the government to introduce alternative service of a civilian nature for conscientious objectors. The court ruled that Article 5 of the Military Service Act (MSA), which fails to provide alternative forms of national service, is unconstitutional and obligated lawmakers to change the law by the end of 2019.

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