FINLAND: Imprisonment of two total objectors - Topi Louko and Jaakko Jekunen


Two total objectors have been imprisoned in Finland.

Topi Louco was sentenced to 126 days imprisonment for "refusal of civilian service" (siviilipalveluksesta kieltäytyminen) on 9 October 2012. Louko refused to continue his civilian service in September 2011. He was imprisoned on 18 December. This CO Alert follows an initial Alert on Topi, when he was sentenced.

Jaakko Jekunen, also a total objector, was charged with "civilian service crime" (siviilipalvelusrikos) and sentenced to 181 days in prison on 7 Aug 2012. He was imprisoned on 4 December.

Topi and Jaakko's refusals are based on reasons of conscience. Conscientious objection is part of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion protected by Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The UN Commission on Human Rights declared 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.).

The length of the substitute service in Finland is punitive. 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).

War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to be sent to Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Tapani Katainen, or to Finnish embassies abroad. A protest email can be sent at /node/20879. A list of Finnish embassies can be found here.

War Resisters' International calls for Topi Louko and Jaakko Jekunen to be immediately released.

Hannah Brock
War Resisters' International