Welcome to this last issue of CO-Update for 2009 - a double issue for November and December. And there is a lot to report, mostly on the legal side. We start with the good news: Colombia's Constitutional Court recognised the right to conscientious objection in a recent judgement (see main story). This is an important step forward for conscientious objectors in Colombia, but it also means that there is a lot of work to be done now, to make sure that the implementation of this right is up to international standards.
On 14 October 2009, the Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled on a "demand of unconstitutionality" submitted by several Colombian organisations in March 2009 (see CO-Update No 46, April 2009). Suprisingly, the Court ruled that the right to conscientious objection to military service is protected under the Colombian constitution. The Court gave it as a task to the Colombian Congress to now pass a law on conscientious objection to military service.
Joint statement of European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, Quaker
United Nations Office, Geneva, and War Resisters' International on
the ECtHR Third section judgement Bayatyan v. Armenia (Application no.
On 6 October 2009 the Venezuelan parliament passed a new law on conscription and recruitment, which replaces the law from 1978, which was no longer in line with the Bolivarian Constitution. While Venezuela's oppositional media mostly reported on "obligatory military service" in Venezuela, the real differences between the law from 1978 and the new law are elsewhere.
After the German federal elections in October, the new German governing coalition of Christian Democrats and Free Democrats (Liberals) announced that military service will be shortened to six months from 1 January 2011 on, and conscription will be reviewed. This means that substitute civilian service for conscientious objectors will also be reduced to six months. At present, both services are nine months long.
The Privy Council, Bermuda's highest court, will hear a case against conscription brought by Bermudans Against the Draft (BAD) next year in February. BAD first launched the court action in late 2006. They lost their first hearing in the Supreme Court in March 2008 and lost again in the Court of Appeal in November 2008. However, the Court of Appeal gave permission to take the case to the Privy Council because it agreed it is of sufficient public importance to be considered further.
The investigation against WRI's Israeli affiliate New Profile for "inciting youth to evade military service" has been closed, according to media reports. In April 2009, the police raided the homes of several New Profile activists, confiscated computers, and interrogated several activists as part of an investigation that had been opened in September 2008 (see CO-Update No 47, May 2009).
Since its foundation in 1921, the work for prisoners for peace – imprisoned conscientious objectors and peace activists – has been a central part of the work of War Resisters' International.
1 December has been Prisoners for Peace Day since 1957. Take some time – not only on 1 December – Prisoners for Peace Day – to write letters to prisoners (see the included list).
Nonviolent Livelihood Struggle and Global Militarism: links & strategies