Follow-up report on the Hellenic Republic (2002-2005). Assessment of the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights



Conscientious objectors


34. In 2002 the Commissioner had much welcomed the fact that revised Greek Constitution was now guaranteeing a right to conscientious objection, but he found that an extra term of 18 months for such objectors constituted a disproportionate measure in practice. He advised to reduce the duration of alternative service to an equitable term in comparison with military service and to work along the lines of recommendations from the Greek Ombudsman in order to rectify the disproportionate character of the present legislation. The Commissioner also recommended the transfer of responsibilities for granting conscientious objector status from the Ministry of Defence to an independent civilian department.



39. The Commissioner is pleased to note that the conditions of the alternative service offered to conscientious objectors in Greece have significantly improved since his visit in 2002 with the adoption of new legislation in 2004, especially as regards the length of such service. It can, however, still be subject to discussion whether an alternative service which lasts almost twice as long as the regular armed service has a punitive character or is genuinely equivalent to military service in terms of hardship and constraints. The Commissioner recommends that the Greek authorities grant conscientious objector status to persons who have already performed a military service in another country if they had no realistic possibility to refuse it or when their experience has been traumatic.”




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