Paraguay: one step closer to implementation of conscientious objection legislation
On 29 March 2011, Paraguay passed a decree to form a National Council on Conscientious Objection to Military Service. According to the law on conscientious objection passed last year (see CO-Update No 57, July 2010), this Council is responsible for the recognition of applications for conscientious objection. According to the decree, the Council is made up of the following: the human rights ombudsman as chair, the president of the human rights committee of the Senate, the president of the human rights committee of the chamber of deputies, a representative of the Ministry of Defence and a representative of the conscientious objectors.
On 4 February 2011, the Paraguayan daily "Ultima Hora" reported that many Paraguayan youth did not know how to apply for conscientious objection after the introduction of the new law last year. According to the human rights ombudsman, the ombudsman would issue temporary recognitions until the National Council on Conscientious Objection would be functional.
According to War Resisters' International and many Paraguayan organisations, while in international comparison the Paraguayan law on conscientious objection might not be the worst example, in the Paraguayan context it signifies a serious worsening of the situation. For the first time, conscientious objectors are subjected to a substitute service, and to an application process, while since 1994 and until recently a simple conscientious objection declaration was sufficient to be exempted from military service. In this sense, the new law on conscientious objection is a huge step backwards.
No 6363, 29 March 2011, Ultima Hora: Villalba da una solucion parche a los objetores, 4 February 2011; War Resisters' International: Paraguay: Law on conscientious objection as backlash, CO-Update No 57, July