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.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has accepted a Turkish Cypriot conscientious objector's application against Turkey. Conscientious objector Halil Karapasaoglu, based in North Cyprus - a self-declared state recognised only by Turkey, was sentenced to 20 days in prison in January 2019. His sentence was cut short to 3 days after his successful appeal. In July 2019, Karapasaoglu submitted an application to the ECtHR for violations of articles 5, 6 and 9 of the ECHR - referring to deprivation of liberty, the right to a fair trial and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion respectively.

We have launched the CO book in its Spanish edition. On February 20th we held a launching event in Bogotá where we reflected on the book's content and discussed about all the ways we can object and resist war.

A Dashoguz Region court jailed Jehovah's Witness Vepa Matyakubov for two years on 17 February, his second criminal conviction for refusing military service on grounds of conscience. He had offered to do an alternative civilian service but Turkmenistan does not offer this. He is likely to join nine other jailed conscientious objectors in Seydi labour camp, known for harsh conditions and torture.

The trial of 19-year-old Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Jovidon Bobojonov for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience may begin at Dushanbe Military Court in early March. One official of the Court told Forum 18 that the criminal case is close to completion.  If convicted, he faces between two and five years in prison. He has become "emotionally and physically exhausted" since he was seized in October 2019, Jehovah's Witnesses say.

Germany Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer suggested opening the debate on reintroducing military service for high school graduates. After doing a “listening tour” of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) branches, Annegret Kramp-karrembauer came out in favor of starting the discussion of reintroducing compulsory national service in Germany.

Contrary to international humanitarian law, Russian continues conscripting men in Crimea to serve in the Russian armed forces. Human Rights Watch has reviewed dozens of judgments from Crimean courts on criminal draft evasion cases and identified 71 criminal draft evasion cases and 63 guilty verdicts between 2017 and 2019.

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