There are no plans to suspend/abolish conscription in the near future.

Conscientious objection:


First recognised in Law No. 2510/97, and entered into force in 1998.




9 or 12

Depending on the location of the units where the conscripts fulfil their military obligations.









Voluntary enlistment:


According to the reply of the National Defense General Staff: “The personnel of the Armed Forces (Officers, NCOs, Professional Soldiers) may resign from the Armed Forces for any reason (including reasons of belief) at any time during their career. However, according to law, Officers and NCOs graduating from Military Academies and Schools are required to serve in the Armed Forces for a mandatory period of twice the years of their studies, for Officers, and five years, for NCOs. Resigning before the end of this period is possible, however these Officers and NCOs must pay a compensation to the State. Similar provisions also apply to Military Academy and School students, as well as for personnel who have received leave for studies and/or have trained in domestic or foreign schools at the Service’s cost. No minimum mandatory service period in the Armed Forces is required for Professional Soldiers; they may resign at any time without having to pay compensation.”

However, as it has been also highlighted by the Greek National Commission for Human Rights in its submission for a bill in 2019, which resulted in law 4609/2019, “The right of professional staff of the armed forces, insofar their beliefs have changed, to apply for recognition as conscientious objectors should not be confused with any other procedures of resignation which entail severe financial consequences”. [1]

More including the replies of the National Defense General Staff to the Questionnaire about EBCO’s Annual Report 2022 (e-mails on 15/02/2023, 01/03/2023, and 30/03/2023).

Serious deterioration concerning granting conscientious objector status

According to official data, revealed in 2022, in 2021 the percentage of recognition for conscientious objectors who invoke non-religious grounds had fallen to 0%, while in 2018 the percentage had reached 93 %.[2] The data were revealed after the National Transparency Authority (NTA) ordered the Ministry of National Defence to provide such information to an applicant for alternative civilian service.[3]

Following a similar petition by another applicant, the Ministry of National Defence recently provided the statistics for 2022, which reveal that only 33% of applications on ideological (non-religious) grounds were accepted.[4]

Furthermore, perhaps for the first time, detailed information was provided on administrative appeals to remedy decisions of rejection. The official data show that in the last decade, until 2022, only 3 of the administrative appeals submitted by applicants claiming ideological (non-religious) beliefs were granted (one in 2014, one in 2017 and one in 2022), while in 2021 all 3 such administrative appeals were rejected, confirming concerns that administrative appeals are not an effective remedy for this issue.

In addition, according to Amnesty International, there has been worrying information that the rejection of second applications for CO status and alternative service (following the rejection of the first one) continues but with a new reasoning. This is despite the relevant jurisprudence of the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, that has ruled in favour of individuals whose second applications have been rejected without being examined on the merits.

Moreover, Amnesty International received a complaint by such an applicant, that after the rejection of his second application without examination on the merits, he was called up to enlist in the armed forces the following day. The next day he was given a call for enlistment by the police, requiring him to enlist in the armed forces on the same day. Such practices effectively reduce the margin to appeal such decisions and therefore the right to an effective remedy, and/or put applicants in risk to be immediately declared insubordinate and face serious criminal and administrative sanctions and risk of arrest.[5]

At least four appeals of rejected applicants for conscientious objector status were pending to the Council of State at the end of the year. Among them, there are the cases of Charis Vasileiou and Nikolas Stefanidis, which are illustrative, inter alia, of the discrimination faced by a particular group of conscientious objectors: those who have been raised in a Jehovah’s Witness family but are not Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves. [6] The Council of State hold a hearing for these two cases on the 6th of June 2022 and the judgement is pending.

Another case pending at the Council of State is that of Thomas Katsaros. He applied in May 2022 for conscientious objector status, requesting to perform the (punitive) alternative civilian service. His application was based on his ideological pacifist beliefs. His application was rejected in August 2022 by the Minister of National Defence, after a recommendation by a special committee with military participation, on the grounds that from the submitted documentation it is not inferred that the claimed conscientious grounds stem from a specific ideology, philosophical, religious or political, preventing him from fulfilling his military duties in arms. Thomas Katsaros submitted an administrative appeal (“aitisi therapeias”) to the Minister of National Defence in September 2022. However, due to the delay in receiving a response for such appeal, and the risk to miss the deadline for judicial appeal, in November 2022 he also submitted a judicial appeal to the Council of State, the Supreme Administrative Court. Throughout the years, there is a pattern of delay of response of the Minister of National Defence to administrative appeals of rejected applicants, which entails for them a risk of missing the deadline for judicial appeal. His administrative appeal was rejected by the same Minister of National Defence in January 2023, after a recommendation by a special committee with military participation. Both the special committee and the Minister summarily rejected the appeal of dozens of pages (including new evidence, i.e., testimonies of people knowing the applicant) with a single sentence. [7]

In December, the Ministry of National Defence published for public consultation a bill which included, inter alia, an amendment in order to increase the number of military members of the committee examining applications for conscientious objector status, in contravention of all international and regional human rights standards and recommendations of human rights bodies. After reactions, inter alia, from Amnesty International[8] and the Greek National Commission for Human Rights,[9] the relevant problematic provision was not included in the bill when it was submitted and voted in the Parliament in early 2023.

Failure to implement a decision of the Human Rights Committee

Greece has not implemented, so far, the 2021 UN Human Rights Committee decision in the case of conscientious objector Lazaros Petromelidis,[10] which found multiple violations of the ICCPR. Greece failed to respond within the deadline of 180 days (expired in June 2022), in July was given another 180 days, and until the end of 2022 has not sent an answer. However, according to information from Mr. Petromelidis, Greece responded in January 2023. Its response shows absolute disregard for the decision of the Human Rights Committee. Greece’s response says nothing about reimbursement of all sums paid as financial penalties instead of imprisonment, about adequate compensation or even about expunging Mr. Petromelidis’ criminal record, as the Committee has ordered. Furthermore, Greece considers that the current relevant legislation is adequate – despite numerous recommendations by international, regional and domestic human rights institutions. In short, Greece considers that there is no need to take any individual or general measure.

Sentencing of a total objector

Sentencing of total objectors by military courts, for refusing to perform the military and the (punitive) alternative civilian service, continued, in flagrant violation of international human rights law and standards.

A total objector, P.C., was sentenced for insubordination by the Military Court of Ioannina City to a suspended sentence of 6-month imprisonment. This was his second conviction for insubordination, which constitutes a further violation, i.e., of the ne bis in idem principle.

Several other cases of prosecution of total objectors by military courts are pending.

Sentencing and arrests of civilians for insubordination

Furthermore, according to information from lawyers, military courts continued to sentence other civilians for insubordination, including persons who have completed 45 years of age and are no longer liable for military service. According to official police reports[11] and relevant media reports,[12] police continued to arrest people for insubordination.

Other judicial cases

The Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, hold a hearing about the appeal of the State against the decision of the Administrative Court of first instance to annul the administrative fine for insubordination which had been imposed to a conscientious objector, as he has later performed alternative civilian service. The judgement is pending.

Conscientious objection and personal data

In January 2022, the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA) issued an important decision concerning the protection of personal data of conscientious objectors.[13] The decision concerns the data included in the certificate of military status issued by the military authorities; a document usually requested to certify that someone has no military duties anymore. The HDPA ruled in favour of a conscientious objector who had appealed to this independent authority against the decision of the military authorities to issue a certificate which reveals that he has been recognized as a conscientious objector and has performed alternative civilian service instead of military service. The HDPA found that the certificate of military status issued was illegal for containing unnecessary information and requested from the Minister of National Defence to issue a new one in accordance with the principle of “data minimisation”. This principle means that a data controller should limit the collection of personal information to what is directly relevant and necessary to accomplish a specified purpose. The HDPA found that such certificate should not reveal that someone has performed alternative civilian service (meaning he is a conscientious objector), but only that he does not have military duties anymore. The same authority issued a similar decision for those who have been exempted from military service for medical reasons. Such information should not be revealed either. The only information necessary is that they do not have military duties.[14] The Ministry of National Defence submitted an administrative appeal (“aitisi therapeias”) against the decision of the HDPA, but the latter rejected it.


[1] GNCHR, Observations on articles 18, 21 and 22 of the Bill of the Ministry of National Defence regarding the "Arrangements for Armed Forces Personnel" [in Greek], 19 March 2019, p. 11. Available at:

[6] For more details about the cases of Vasileiou and Stefanidis see the joint public statement of EBCO and other international organisations:

[7] For more details about the case of Katsaros see the joint public statement of EBCO and other international organisations: