There will be many changes in the WRI office this year. Firstly, we say goodbye to Javier Gárate after ten years working in the office. There will be a chance to say goodbye and thank you to Javier next month! Taking over from Javier as WRI's Nonviolence Programme Worker in mid-February will be Andrew Dey.
Also for the first time, thanks to support from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, we are able to appoint a part-time staff person dedicated to the Countering the Militarisation of Youth Programme, which up until now has been part of the Right to Refuse to Kill Programme. Semih Sapmaz will be starting 2 days/week in the WRI office from February. We will be fundraising to ensure this role continues beyond the one year we have already funded.
Campaigners in Colombia have been boosted by a new ruling from the Constitutional Court. Yesterday, in a case brought by two conscientious objectors (COs) who had been forcibly recruited into the military, the Court ordered the National Recruitment Office to: resolve applications for CO within 15 days; to publish a booklet that notifies youth of their grounds for exemption, deferral, and their right to CO; and to end the practices of arbitrary detention, including batidas (recruitment raids, usually in public spaces). This right to claim conscientious objection includes once they have already entered the barracks. They have also asked the Army to report, within six months, on the implementation of these orders. If fully adopted, the changes would mark a huge change for young people in Colombia, and especially COs.
In Finland, WRI's affiliate AKL (Union of Conscientious Objectors) are petitioning the government to end conscription and the imprisonment of COs. Please add your name to it here.