Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Conscientious objectors' victory in ROK

Whether South Korea should finally recognize conscientious objection is currently before the country's Constitutional Court. But that hasn't prevented an appellate court from overturning several cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses, according to this report. Excerpt:
[T]he appeals court in the southwestern city of Gwangju overturned the convictions and 18-month jail terms handed down by a lower court on two Jehovah’s Witnesses, arguing they had genuinely been motivated by religious convictions in refusing to serve. 
"Religious and personal conscience is guaranteed by the constitution and cannot be restrained by criminal punishment," Yonhap news agency quoted the court as saying. 
"The international community is recognising conscientious objectors," it said, while noting that "a consensus is shaping in our society on the need for an alternative service". 
The judges also rejected prosecutors' calls to overturn a rare not-guilty verdict on a third conscientious objector -- also a Jehovah's Witness. 
It was the first time an appeals court has ruled against the government in such cases. The timing and language of the judgement will provide a huge boost for advocates of reforming military service regulations.

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