Ukraine: Drop all charges against Vitaly Alekseenko immediately
In Ukraine, on 16 January 2023, Ivano-Frankivsk Appeal Court rejected the appeal of 46-year-old Christian Vitaly Alekseenko against his conviction for refusing call up to the military on conscientious grounds. "I told the court I agree that I have broken the law of Ukraine," Alekseenko told Forum 18, "but I am not guilty under the law of God." When he gets the written verdict, which he expects on 19 January, the one-year imprisonment sentence will go into force and he expects to be taken to prison immediately afterwards.
The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO), War Resisters’ International (WRI), the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) and Connection e.V. (Germany) consider the conviction of conscientious objector Vitaly Alekseenko a blatant violation of his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, guaranteed under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is non-derogable in time of public emergency, according to Article 4.2 of ICCPR.
The organisations express their full solidarity with Vitaly Alekseenko and urge the Ukrainian authorities to drop all charges against him immediately.
The organisations underline that his conviction occurs in the context that Ukraine has suspended the right of conscientious objection in the current emergency and call for the relevant decree to be immediately reversed.
The organisations also recall their strong condemnation of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, and call on the soldiers not to participate in hostilities and on all recruits to refuse military service.
The Ukrainian government should safeguard the right to conscientious objection to military service, including in wartime, fully complying with the European and international standards, amongst others the standards set by the European Court of Human Rights. Ukraine is member of the Council of Europe and needs to continue to respect the European Convention of Human Rights. As now Ukraine becomes candidate to join the European Union, it will need to respect the Human Rights as defined in the EU Treaty, and the jurisprudence of the EU Court of Justice, which include the right of conscientious objection to military service.
For more info about Vitaly Alekseenko's case, see here: Forum 18