European Committee of Social Rights: Conclusions 2008 (Georgia)


Length of service required to replace military service

The Committee would emphasise that the length of service carried out to replace military service (alternative service), during which those concerned are denied the right to earn their living in an occupation freely entered upon, must be reasonable (Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) v. Greece, complaint No. 8/2000, decision on the merits of 25 April 2001, §§23-25). The Committee assesses whether the length of alternative service is reasonable by comparing it with the length of military service. For example, where the length of alternative service is over one-and-a-half times that of military service, it considers the situation to be incompatible with Article 1§2 (Conclusions 2006, Estonia).
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. The Committee notes that in Georgia compulsory military service lasts 18 months and alternative service is the same length for citi­zens with a higher education and 24 months for all others.




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