Right to Refuse to Kill

War Resisters' International's programme The Right to Refuse to Kill combines a wide range of activities to support conscientious objectors individually, as well as organised groups and movements for conscientious objection.

Our main publications are CO-Alerts (advocacy alerts sent out whenever a conscientious objector is prosecuted) and CO-Updates (a bimonthly look at developments in conscientious objection around the world).

We maintain the CO Guide - A Conscientious Objector's Guide to the International Human Rights System, which can help COs to challenge their own governments, and protect themselves from human rights abuses.

Information about how nation states treat conscientious objectors can be found in our World Survey of Conscientious Objection and recruitment.

More info on the programme is available here.

On December 6th, the UN Human Rights Committee announced their decision on the case of conscientious objector Lazaros Petromelidis from Greece. The Committee found violations of the articles 9(1), 12(2), 14(7), and 18(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and asked Greece to take necessary measures addressing these violations.

As the organisations signing this statement, we welcome this decision of the Human Rights Committee.

In December 2021, the United Nations Human Rights Committee asked Belarus to respond in the case of 33-year-old Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Dmitry Mozol. In February 2021, a court in Pinsk fined him four months' wages for refusing call-up to reservist military training on grounds of conscience. He failed to overturn the criminal punishment on appeal. The law allows only individuals who have completed alternative civilian service to be exempted from reservist military training. Alternative service was introduced only in 2016, after Mozol was initially called up.

Cyprus

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Issues

Cyprus still maintains conscription. The recognition of the right to conscientious
objection does not meet international standards.
The right to conscientious objection is not recognised for professional soldiers, nor for
serving conscripts.

Military recruitment
Conscription

Conscription
is enshrined in Article 129 of the 1960 Constitution, according to
which "(1) The Republic shall have an army of two thousand
men of whom sixty per cent shall be Greeks and forty per cent shall
be Turks.

Conscientious objector Eran Aviv from Israel got his exemption from military service after spending 114 days behind bars.

Eran, 19, declared his conscientious objection in May 2021, stating his refusal to serve in the Israeli military due to his opposition to the occupation. Since his refusal, Eran has spent a total of 114 days in military prison in six separate terms. 

On 7 October, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a decision that Azerbaijan had violated the human rights of two Jehovah's Witness young men, Emil Mehdiyev and Vahid Abilov, who had been convicted in 2018 for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience.

Read the stories of Shahar Peretz,18, and Eran Aviv, 19, who are currently serving time in prison for their conscientious objection to military service. Shahar and Eran describe how young people in Israel, from an early age, are habituated through school and the wider society to their joining the IDF, and their refusal to take part in the occupation and the cycle of violence.

Ukrainian conscientious objector and journalist Ruslan Kotsaba will be on trial again on September 20th. Support Kotsaba with your actions ahead of his trial! War Resisters’ International (WRI), European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) and Connection e.V. are calling for international actions ahead of Kotsaba’s next hearing, scheduled to take place on September 20th.

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