Sunday, April 27, 2014

Conscientious objection in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan has been wrestling with conscientious objection following a 2013 decision of the Supreme Court, according to this Forum 18 News Service report. Criminal convictions of Jehovah's Witnesses have been set aside, but what to do legislatively for the future? Among the questions: Must the individual's objection be religiously based, or can it be, as in the United States, derived from other moral values that function with the same intensity? If the individual is found entitled to C.O. status, must the alternative service fee be paid to the Defense Ministry or may it be paid into the general government fund? A sincere objector might well object to being put in a position of helping pay for defense operations to which he objects.
Deputy Defence Minister Zamir Suerkulov defended the proposed restriction of the right to apply to pay the "alternative service" fee only to members of registered pacifist religious organisations. Asked what would happen to non-religious conscientious objectors or members of unregistered religious communities if the amendments are adopted, he told Forum 18: "They would have to serve [in the army]."
The legal amendments were ordered in a November 2013 decision of the Supreme Court's Constitutional Chamber, which declared three provisions of the current Law on General Obligations of Citizens, on Military and Alternative Service unconstitutional, effectively annulling them: that the "alternative service" fee goes to the military; that conscientious objectors during this period are under military supervision; and that when completed individuals are assigned to the military reserve. It said these deficiencies of the Law needed to be remedied (see F18News 25 February 2014).

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