Finland: Service required to replace military service


European Committee of Social Rights: Conclusions 2008 – Volume 1

(Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Ireland, Italy)



Service required to replace military service

Under the Military Service Act the length of military service is 180, 270 or 362 days. The duration of unarmed military service is 330 days and of alternative civilian service 395 days.
In its previous conclusion (Conclusions XVII-1), the Committee found that the situation was not compatible with the Revised Charter on the grounds that the length of alternative service was more than double the length of compulsory service performed by the majority of conscripts, since at that time 64.2% of conscripts performed 180 days of military service. In its previous conclusion (Conclusions 2006), it noted that the majority of conscripts (52.3%) served at least 270 days and 47.7% served 180 days. The Committee found that the situation had altered, but only slightly, and that the length of civilian service remained more than double the minimum period of military service undertaken by almost half of all conscripts.

It now notes from the report that there have been no changes in the situation it previously considered not to be in conformity. It therefore finds that the length of alternative civilian service remains a disproportionate restriction on workers' right to earn a living in an occupation freely entered upon. Admittedly, recognised conscientious objectors are in a better position than they would be in countries that do not grant them special status and where refusal to serve is punishable by imprisonment. But even if the state acknowledges the principle of conscientious objection and institutes a replacement service, it cannot make the replacement service longer than is necessary to ensure that refusal to serve on grounds of conscience is genuine, in order to avoid the replacement service being chosen as the most advantageous solution rather than felt as a




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