War Resisters' International was informed today that Colombian
conscientious objector Frank Yair Estrada Marin (COL14922) has been
illegally recruited on 5 May 2007, and is presently being held in the
Batallon Pedro Justo Berrio in Medellin.
On the morning of 5 May, Frank Yair Estrada Marin was taken by soldiers
from the Batallon Pedro Justo Berrio to the batallon, under the pretext
that they needed to perform a medical examination to verify his ability
to perform military service. However, because Frank Yair Estrada Marin
did not have a military card (libreta militar), he was immediately
recruited, under protest of Frank Yair Estrada Marin, who declared that
he did not agree with any of the armed groups in Colombia, because he
is a conscientious objector.
Three important legal aspects are to be considered in this case:
1. The way of recruitment. Recruitment is regulated in
Colombian law 48 of 1993. While this law requires to "clarify ones
military situation when someone reaches the age of 18" (Art 14).
However, failure to do so can only be punished with a fine (Art 41 and
42). The law does not specify that in such cases the normal recruitment
procedure, as outlined in Articles 14-21 of the law, does no longer
apply. The recruitment of Frank Yair Estrada Marin is therefore illegal
even under Colombian law.
In addition, the forced recruitment of Frank Yair Estrada Marin is a
violation of the "right to personal liberty (Article 7), the protection
of human dignity (Article 11) and the right to freedom of movement
(Article 22), guaranteed in the American Convention on Human Rights, in
connection with Article 1.1 of that same legal instrument", according
to a decision of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in a
very similar case from Guatemala (CASE 10.975,
6 October 1993).
2. His possible reasons for exemption from military service.
Article 28 of law 48/1993 defines the reasons for exemption from
military service. Frank Yair Estrada Marin has medical problems with
his spine. Due to the illegal recruitment process, he did not have a
chance to claim any exemption on medical grounds.
3. The right to conscientious objection. Colombia is
signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The right to conscientious objection is recognised by the United
Nations Human Rights Committee as a legitimate exercise of the right to
freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, as guaranteed by Article
18 ICCPR. In fact, in a recent decision on two cases of conscientious
objectors from South Korea, the Human Rights Committee stated that not
to provide for the right to conscientious objection is a violation of
Article 18 ICCPR (see CCPR/C/88/D/1321-1322/2004 from 23 January 2007).
War Resisters' International considers the forced recruitment of
Frank Yair Estrada Marin as arbitrary detention. It constitutes a
violation of Colombian law 48/1993, of articles 7, 11, and 22 of the
American Convention on Human Rights, and of Article 18 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Frank
Yair Estrada Marin:
Batallon Pedro Justo Berrio, Carrera 70 Nro 1-50, Medellin, Colombia
War Resisters' International calls for urgent letters of protest to:
Batallón Pedro Justo Berrio
Carrera 70 Nro 1-50
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Frank
Yair Estrada Marin from military service.
War Resisters' International
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