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.

Following reports on right-wing extremism activities by active or former members of the German army, the new commissioner for the armed forces, Eva Högl, started a debate affirming that “ending conscription was a big mistake” and reintroducing it might help tackle antidemocratic ideas inside the army. The Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer rejected the idea of the return of compulsory military service, announcing, on the other hand, a new voluntary service called “Your year for Germany” which will be introduced in 2021.

The Inter American Court of Human Rights has adopted its admissibility report on José Ignacio Orías Calvo’s conscientious objection case, presented by Derechos en Acción against Bolivia. The IACHR considered that the Bolivian state didn’t comply with its commitment of legislating on the human right of conscientious objection.

Following International Conscientious Objection Day, WRI hosted a webinar on conscientious objection and asylum with contributions by campaigners from Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) and Connection e.V.. The presentations from this webinar are now available online and you can watch here.

CO-Update 100 is out!

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The latest issue of our newsletter CO Update is out! In this issue, you'll find stories on conscientious objection and conscription from Ukraine,Turkey, Eritrea, Germany, USA, Azerbaijan, Thailand, among others.

The Ukrainian Pacifist Movement condemns Bill No 3553, recently sent to parliament by President Zelensky. If parliament passes the bill, Ukraine will face further bloodshed, crime will rise, and our economy will fall into deeper misery and shadows. Thousands of additional Ukrainian citizens will seek asylum abroad, away from war and violence destroying their peaceful way of life.

Ruling party deputy Siyavush Novruzov told parliament on 30 March that an Alternative Service Law should be adopted. Parliament's Defence Committee is handling this, he told Forum 18. The government has not made public any draft. Azerbaijan committed to the Council of Europe to have alternative service by 2003 but failed to meet its obligation.

PRO ASYL and Connection e.V., both based in Germany, released a report criticising the German government for its record of denying refugee status for asylum seekers from Eritrea. In their report, the organisations detailed the ongoing oppressive practices of the Eritrean regime, despite a peace treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea in July 2018. They called on German authorities and courts to provide necessary protection for Eritreans fleeing the oppression and indefinite conscription in Eritrea in accordance with the UNHCR guidelines and Geneva Convention.

Two court cases, one in the Netherlands, the other in the UK, have been launched to contest the European Union (EU) aid for Eritrea which finances a development project employing conscripts from the Eritrean National Service. Eritrea is notorious with its indefinite national service as part of which men and women are forced to spend a lifetime as conscripts, forced to be part of the military or work in mines, farms and factories with no right to leave and essentially no pay.

Mustafa Araz, a conscript in the Turkish Military, was found dead on 12th May. Araz was doing his compulsory military service at an air military base in the Babaeski district of Kirklareli, a city in northwest Turkey. The Turkish Military has ruled that the death of the 23-year-old soldier was a suicide. However, the family challenges the Military’s claim, saying their son’s body was covered in severe bruises and scars, as reported in the prosecutor’s report. They have filed a lawsuit at the prosecutor’s office for the incident to be investigated further. 

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