European Committee of Social Rights: Conclusions 2008 (Estonia)


Service required to replace military service

The Committee notes from the report that there have been no changes in the situation it previously considered unsatisfactory, and that the Government has no intention of changing it. Military service lasts 8 months. However it is extended to 11 months for non-commissioned officers, specialists and those undertaking reserve officer training. Alternative military service lasts 16 months.
Admittedly, recognised conscientious objectors are in a better position than they are in countries that do not grant them special status or where refusal to serve is punishable by imprisonment. But even if the state acknowledges the principle of conscientious objection and institutes alternative service instead, it cannot make the latter longer than is necessary to ensure that refusal to serve on grounds of conscience is genuine and the choice of alternative service is not seen as advantageous rather than a duty.
Under Article 1§2 of the Charter, alternative service may not exceed one and a half times the length of armed military service. Since alternative service may last up to twice the length of military service, the situation in Estonia is not compatible with the Revised Charter.




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