Greece

This year has been perhaps the most crucial year for conscientious objectors in Greece since the establishment of alternative civilian service in 1997-1998. After years of efforts, there was an opportunity for significant changes. Certain improvements in the legislative framework were achieved but the most important one, the reduction of the length of alternative civilian service was quickly annulled after the summer general elections by the new right-wing Greek government.

The Greek Government has announced a draft bill proposing minor changes that affects conscientious objectors. Despite the proposed minor improvements, the draft bill fails to offer much-awaited changes for conscientious objectors that ensure a non-punitive and non-discriminatory legislation and practice. Conscientious objectors in Greece reported to WRI that if the draft bill passes in parliament in its current version, it would be a missed opportunity, and it's a crucial time to pressure the Greek government to ensure a legislation that meets international standards for conscientious objectors.

On 26-28 May, activists from Greece, Israel, Russia, Turkey, and Cyprus (both south and north) gathered in Nicosia (Cyprus) for a 3-day training, Gender and Countering Youth Militarisation, organised by War Resisters' International. During the training, participants explored gendered dimensions of youth militarisation within their societies as well as discussing how to work internationally to counter these processes.

Bearing in mind the scandalous fact that despite numerous appeals, Greek authorities have, for several decades, violated the human right of conscientious objection to military service, the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection and War Resisters’ International support the renewed call for a boycott of the Conscience Examination Committee (the special advisory committee which examines applications for conscientious objector status), which has been issued by the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors.

In December 2016, the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors called on conscientious objectors (COs) in Greece to boycott the Conscience Examination Committee, which considers CO applications under the authority of the Ministry of Defence. In their statement, the Association said "The existence of a committee, which, like another Holy Inquisition, interrogates the conscientious objectors, violates any sense of the protected right to freedom of conscience."

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