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.

Conscientious objector Yasmin Ricci-Yahav, 18, was imprisoned again for her refusal serve in the army. This is Yasmin's second imprisonment and she will spend 20 more days behind bars. Yasmin was first sentenced to 10 days following her declaration of refusal at the military recruitment centre in Tel Aviv. By the end of her current term, she will have spent a total of 30 days in prison.

A new report on Eritrea published by Human Rights Watch documents the devastating effects of the conscription system on the lives of young Eritreans. In Eritrea, all secondary school students —male and female— are forced to undergo military training to complete their final year. They are sent to Sawa military camp where they follow a schedule combining secondary school classes with compulsory military training.

In June 2018, South Korea's Constitutional Court made a landmark ruling recognising conscientious objection. In its ruling, the Court obligated lawmakers to change the law accordingly and initiate alternative civilian service for conscientious objectors by the end of 2019. After more than a year since the ruling, the National Assembly is still reviewing the proposed bills on alternative civilian service.

Exiled conscientious objectors from Turkey published a call to refuse the war in Northern Syria: “Refuse! Resist! Don’t be a soldier!” They declared: “This is an illegal war that contradicts international treaties. Those who make the decision to invade, those who participate in it, and those who offer support should know that they are committing a crime against humanity!”

Three conscientious objectors, all Jehovah's Witnesses, returning to Transdniester (a self-declared state in the eastern part of Moldova) to visit family were called up for military service in May, and banned from leaving. "I've been living with this uncertainty for nearly half a year, unable to leave, work or relax," Mikhail Yeremeyev told Forum 18. Proposed Alternative Service Law amendments would subjugate alternative service applications to the personnel needs of the military.

Russian Federation Armed Forces have conscripted a record-high number of 3,300 local men from the occupied Crimea in its latest conscription campaign, a recent report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stated. According to the report, since 2017, 29 Crimean residents have been convicted of draft evasion, which is punishable up to two years imprisonment according to Russian law.

Unjust laws and human rights violations force many people to flee their countries and risk drowning to reach Europe via passing through the Mediterranean Sea. Saving the lives of those who are facing death is the first human duty. But now, the Italian law prevents NGOs from search and rescue activities of those people drowning in sea. Because of this context, a number of individuals from Italy launched an appeal for conscientious objection to disobey the relevant law and for saving human lives.

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