Conscientious objection

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Having reintroduced conscription temporarily (for a span of five years) last year, the State Defence Council decided in March that mandatory military service would be enacted indefinitely. The council's decision now have to be approved at the Seimas, the country's parliament. Conscription had been abolished in 2008, but was reintroduced - and defence spending also increased - citing security threats in Eastern Europe.

There are often rumours of conscription in times of political tension, or when right-wing spokespeople raise fears of the 'indiscipline of youth'. Such rumours often circulate without impact, but sometimes they are the start of a wider campaign and eventual reintroduction of compulsory military service.

Editorial

Placheolder image

Compulsory recruitment to the military affects different people and groups in different ways. This month we share the story of transwomen in Thailand. In many countries where men are drafted, trans* women1 are also recruited.

A story that we missed a few months ago, but that we think is well worth sharing!

KnowDrones, a campaigning group working to ban drones, placed an advert in the Air Force Times on September 14, 2015, which carried a message from 54 U.S. military veterans urging U.S. drone operators to refuse orders to fly drone surveillance and attack missions.


A new report from

ACOOC addresses recruitment to the military in Colombia, focusing on the phenomenon of arbitrary detention - usually undertaken through batidas (raids). Though batidas are banned, this report shows that, in practice, they are still common.

The report has been produced by the Acción colectiva de objetores y objetoras de conciencia (ACOOC: Conscientious Objectors' Collective Action) based on information collected in conjunction with other organisations and groups in the Proceso Distrital de Objeción de Conciencia.

In January, the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled that the army should release Cristian Andrés Cortés Calderón. Cristian had been recruited last August, whilst he was still in his final year of high school. Students are allowed to postone military service, but Cristian was nonetheless called up. In court, Cristian's father said that Cristian also works at night in a supermarket to financially support his family. The court ordered that he be released from the military within 48 hours.

The Court however also ruled that Cristian would still be liable for conscription when his studies end.

Sources: corteconstitucional, Sentencia T-004/16, 19 January 2016; Caracol Radio, Ejército no puede reclutar a estudiantes de bachillerato así sean mayores de edad, 23 February 2016.

Original statement in Spanish

This year on the 22nd of March, the Bolivian Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal (PCT) rejected the right of conscientious objection as an alternative to its obligatory military service. This has occurred in spite of the generally agreed-upon right to constitutional protection, brought to attention by 18-year-old objector Ignacio Orías Calvo, who claimed refuge under this fundamental right based on his religious beliefs.

This decision would not seem to follow the same logic of a government fostered by a constitution which, at least on paper, affirms that “Bolivia is a pacifist state, which promotes the Right to Peaceful Solutions and a Peaceful culture”. In actuality, what would appear to be a contradiction fits neatly within the patriarchal and militaristic confines that have characterized the Movement for Socialism of Bolivia (MAS), ever since its army first took root in the country. 

WRI's Egyptian affiliate NoMilService are working with a new conscientious objector, Samir Elsharbaty. Samir has requested his exemption from the service in March. You can find NoMilService's statement supporting him here.

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