Sentencing of total objector Joonas Norrena

Not sent after

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Dear Prime Minister,

I am extremely concerned to hear of the recent sentencing of Joonas Norrena, a 20 year-old conscientious objector from Imatra, Finland. Joonas Norrena was sentenced to 179 days of home detention for "refusal of conscription" (asevelvollisuudesta kieltÃytyminen) on 26 November 2012 by Kymenlaakso district court. He had refused to do military service in July 2012 in Vekaranjärvi garrison in Southeastern Finland.

Joonas Norrena said in his refusal declaration that he does not want to have anything to do with military, and cannot understand why Finland still maintains the conscription system. He argues that 'reducing the number of soldiers and weapons as the only way to lasting peace'. He would be
willing to do civilian service if it were as long as the shortest military service, and had no connections to conscription system and national defence. At the moment, however, civilian service lasts 362 days, whereas the shortest service time in military is 180 days.

The length of the substitute service in this case is punitive. The UN Commission on Human Rights decalred that any alternative service required of conscientious objectors in lieu of compulsory military service must be compatible with the reasons for the objection, of a civilian character, in the public interest and not of a punitive nature e.g. in its duration (Resolution 1998/77, OP4.).

Furthermore, in Foin v France (1999) the Human Rights Committee established its position that any difference in length must be “based on reasonable and objective criteria, such as the nature of the specific service concerned, or the need for a special training in order to accomplish that service.”(Foin v France (Communication No. 666/1995), CCPR/C/D/666/1995, 9 November 1999, para. 10.3.)

I urge you to quash the sentence of Joonas Norrena, and change your policies in line with international standards to ensure subsitute service is not of a punitive nature.

Yours sincerely,