My first experience of producing a CO Update has been a mixed one. On the one hand, we see Colombia and Austria exploring legal routes to protect conscientious objectors, or suspend conscription, respectively. On the other, Armenia has imprisoned conscientious objectors after a break of one year, whilst at the same time making statements that imply a cessation of conscription in the not-too-distant future.
On 20 January 2013, the citizens of Austria will be able to decide on the future of conscription in the country in a referendum. At present, it seems impossible to predict the outcome of the referendum - opinion polls differ, and are generally close, with 51:49 results not uncommon - in favour or against conscription.
Paraguay's de-facto government of Federico Franco, which came into power after a "parliamentary coup" which ousted the country's elected President Fernando Lugo in June 2012, is increasing the pressure on conscientious objectors in the country. The department on conscientious objection reported that more than 500 young people apply for conscientious objection daily, to avoid a fine which is prescribed in the law on military service.
In August two new conscientious objectors were imprisoned in Armenia - both Jehovah's Witnesses - after a break of a year. This brings the number of COs imprisoned in Armenia to 32. Additionally, 16 people (also Jehovah's Witnesses) have been given jail terms in 2012 but have yet to be incarcerated as their appeals are pending. There are a further 23 cases waiting to be heard.
Following the discussion of a first draft law submitted by Senator Maritza Martinez of the "Partido de la U" - the party of ex-president Uribe - in the Colombian Senate earlier this year, with the result that all articles specific to conscientious objection to military service were lost in the processs, the same Senator is now proposing a reworked draft.
Kazakhstan will introduce universal military training for all adult citizens, according to a government decree published on 2nd August.
"The goal of universal military training of citizens is to attract the population to civil defence activities, prepare for necessary contingencies, and build up the armed forces in the period of martial law," the document said.
Training will be compulsory for males aged 16 to 60 years, and women between 18 and 45 years who are childless or whose children are older than 10 years.
The European Bureau of Conscientious Objection (EBCO) presents a conference on the historical dimension of conscientious objection to military service, and related peace movements, to be held in Paris. 9:00-18:30. WRI's Andreas Speck will be speaking on the history of War Resisters' International.
Since the 1950s, 1 December is celebrated as Prisoners for Peace Day, to highlight the plight of those who face imprisonment for the nonviolent actions for peace - be they conscientious objectors or direct action activists.
While WRI has a permanent Prisoners for Peace list on its website, we make a special effort to update it for Prisoners for Peace Day, and call on everyone to write cards or letters to prisoners.