Colombia: payment for "libreta militar" unconstitutional

The "libreta militar" was also subject to a decision of the Constitutional Court in Colombia on 15 August. Here it was not about the legality of the card itself, but about the payment for the "libreta militar". Article 22 of law 48/1993 - the Colombian law on military service - requires from Colombians who do not serve in the military the payment of a "compensation quota" to the Treasury, and the government is authorised to define the value and conditions of this quota.

In its judgement on the constitutionality of this clause, the Constitutional Court declared the second part of this regulation - that the government is authorised to define the value of the quota - unconstitutional. According to the court, the quota is basically a contribution or tax, and it is up to the congress - the Colombian parliament - to set taxes, and this power cannot be delegated to the government.

This means that - until a new regulation is in place - the "libreta militar" is in principle available for free. However, the decision has little effect on Colombian conscientious objectors, who do not want to regularise their military situation, and it also does not negate the obligation to carry a "libreta militar".

On a different matter, Red Juvenil de Medellin reported on 3 September 2007 that the typical recruitment practice of "batidas" - raids in public places - continues, and reported on the attempted recruitment of a Red Juvenil activist in a batida on 27 August 2007. While the activist concerned was lucky and managed to get released from the military, other youth were less lucky. War Resisters' International is presently still dealing with two cases of forced recruitment from Colombia - the cases of Carlos Andres Giraldo Hincapie and Frank Yair Estrada Marin. Both are forced to serve in the military against their will.

Sources: Corte Constitucional: Sentencia C-621/07, Red Juvenil, 3 September 2007