HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Item 3 of the provisional agenda
Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir
(k) Conscientious objection
22. Many individuals have claimed the right to refuse to perform military service (conscientious objection) on the basis that such right derives from their freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The first mandate-holder, Mr. Angelo Vidal d’Almeida Ribeiro, developed a set of criteria concerning cases of conscientious objection (E/CN.4/1992/52, para. 185). Conscientious objectors should be exempted from combat but could be required to perform comparable alternative service of various kinds, which should be compatible with their reasons for conscientious objection, should such service exist in their country. To avoid opportunism, it would be acceptable if this service were at least as onerous as military service, but not so onerous as to constitute a punishment for the objector. They could also be asked to perform alternative service useful to the public interest, which may be aimed at social improvement, development or promotion of international peace and understanding. Conscientious objectors should be given full information about their rights and responsibilities and about the procedures to be followed when seeking recognition as conscientious objectors, bearing in mind that application for the status of conscientious objector has to be made within a specific time frame. The decision concerning their status should be made, when possible, by an impartial tribunal set up for that purpose or a by a regular civilian court, with the application of all the legal safeguards provided for in international human rights instruments. There should always be a right to appeal to an independent, civilian judicial body. The decision-making body should be entirely separate from the military authorities and the conscientious objector should be granted a hearing, and be entitled to legal representation and to call relevant witnesses.