PRESS RELEASE: A sad continuity of problems
Brussels, 10 December 2015
On International Human Rights Day the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) publishes its new Annual Report “Conscientious objection to military service in Europe 2015”.
“It remains a scandal that the violation of the human right of conscientious objection to military service continues to be a daily occurrence in several member states of the Council of Europe”, EBCO President Friedhelm Schneider said today. “And it is a shame that members of European institutions seem to resign themselves to this unacceptable state of affairs.”
Monitoring the situation of conscientious objectors in Europe during the last year the report documents a sad continuity of problems on three levels:
- Notwithstanding having ratified the European Convention of Human Rights or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights a number of states still do not implement the right of conscientious objection to military service (eg Turkey), or implement it in a discriminatory and punitive fashion (eg Greece).
- As to the developments in Ukraine and the surrounding region, the tendency is to be noted again that the right of conscientious objection to military service is denied, just when it is most relevant – in time of war. Furthermore for the first time after 1945 two European states, Ukraine and Lithuania, have reintroduced military conscription after suspending it.
- In this context the topic of conscientious objectors seeking refugee status has become a matter of increased urgency. The tendency of some states to exclude refugee claims by listing safe countries of origin is a matter of grave concern to EBCO. A country declared as safe in most instances for repatriation is not necessarily a country which respects the right of conscientious objection to military service.
EBCO urges the member states of the Council of Europe which still do not respect the human right of conscientious objection to military service to bring their legislation and practice in line with European and international human right standards.
The comprehensive Report on conscientious objection to military service in Europe 2015 can be downloaded from EBCO’s website http://www.ebco-beoc.org/