Country report and updates: Latvia

Last revision: 23 Oct 2008
23 Oct 2008


  • Latvia does not recognise the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.

Military recruitment


On 7 June, 2005, the Latvian government approved the “National Armed Forces Medium-Term Development Plan” for the period 2005-2008, which envisaged the phasing out of conscription by the end of 20061. On 24 November 2006, the last conscripts finished their military service2.

It is not clear whether all laws governing conscription have been amended or abolished3.
According to the 2006 Defence White Paper, the conscription centre, responsible for the recruitment of conscripts, was planned to cease to exist by 1 January 20074.

Professional soldiers

The Military Service Law of 20025 provides the general framework for military service of any kind, including of professional soldiers. The minimum contract times are
generally three years, but for officers the minimum is five years (Article 20 paragraph 3). A contract can be extended for the same time.

The NAF Recruitment and Selection Centre (RSC), which replaced the conscription centre, visits educational institutions including orphanages to “promote comprehensive information on professional military service, as well as on education and career opportunities within the armed forces”. In addition, the RSC promotes joining the Armed Forces at city festivals and through the mass media6.

Conscientious objection

Conscientious objection for conscripts

The right to conscientious objection was legally recognised by the 2002 Law on Alternative Service. The Law entered into force on 1 July 2002. Before 2002, the right to conscientious objection was not legally recognised.

The status of the law after the end/suspension of conscription is unclear. It has to be assumed that the law is no longer in force. It does no longer appear on the website of the Ministry of Defence.

Conscientious objection for professional soldiers

There is no legal provision for conscientious objection by professional soldiers7.

According to Article 43 paragraph 1 of the Military Service Law, “a professional service contract may be terminated before the end of the term at any time by agreement of the parties”.

According to Article 44 paragraph 5 “during an armed conflict, state of war or state of emergency and in case of mobilisation the retirement of soldiers shall be suspended except for cases where a soldier has become unfit for military service.

Draft evasion and desertion

No information available.


Medium-Term Development Plan for the period 2005-2008,,
accessed 29 April 2008

of Defence: Female soldiers represented 17% of NAF personnel in
2007, 8 February 2008,{479593DA-3DC2-4018-9EB0-EF70D70439F8}&lang=lv,
accessed 29 April 2008

article 13 of the Mobilisation Law 2002, last amended in 2004, still
states: “The conscription of Latvian citizens – reserve
soldiers and reservists – into the active military service in case
of mobilisation shall take place in accordance with the Mandatory
Military Service Law according to procedures determined by the
Cabinet of Ministers

accessed 29 April 2008). The Mandatory Military Service Law,
however, is no longer available from the website of the Ministry of

White Paper (Minister for Defence Report to the Parliament on
National Defence Policy and National Armed Forces Development in
2006) 2006,,
accessed 29 April 2008

of Defence: 548 soldiers conscripted to professional military
service in 2006, 29 January 2007,{5514C576-B0FF-47CF-BC70-FE9C0D930DE8}&lang=en,
accessed 29 April 2008

Resisters' International: Refusing to bear arms, London, 1998,,
accessed 29 April 2008

Recent stories on conscientious objection: Latvia

30 Nov 2015

Lithuania's plans to extend military conscription after 2020. Conscription was reintroduced earlier this year, planned to be only for five years. But due to the “threats from the east” they have already decided to prolong it at least by another year.

A new survey, shows that more than 50% of the population backs the re-introduction of conscription in the country. The survey also shows that the majority of those that oppose conscription belong to the 15-24 age group, the age group closest to conscription age, which is 19-26.

15 Jan 2009

In this presentation I will give an overview of the right to conscientious objection, its
legal practices and frameworks in the 27 European Union member states. Before I do so, I want to step back a bit and have a brief look at the existing international standards about the right to
conscientious objection, as these standards allow us to put the practices in the EU member states into a perspective.

06 Nov 2003

06 November 2003


15. The Committee notes with satisfaction that in 2002, a new law on alternative service entered into force, which provides for the right to conscientious objection. However, the Committee remains concerned that, pending a change in the conscription law, the duration of alternative service is up to twice that of military service and appears to be discriminatory (Article 18).

The State party should ensure that the alternative service is not of a discriminatory duration.