Conscientious Objector Alert

Addressing urgent need for reform


On November 19th The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, EBCO, presented its Annual Report 2016 on Conscientious Objection in Europe on Saturday 19/11/2016 in Athens, Greece. Each year, the report is carried out under the auspices of IFOR. EBCO decided to organize this Annual Report presentation in Greece because in less than a year three different international human rights instruments (the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Human Rights Committee, and the European Court of Human Rights) have pointed out serious violations of human rights of Greek conscientious objectors. This highlights Greece’s urgent need for legislative reform on conscientious objection, in order to comply with international human rights law and standards.

In his foreword Friedhelm Schneider, EBCO President, points  to some gleams of light amid the darkness: 

  • In January 2016 an amnesty was pronounced for all Greek objectors who had declared their objection before 1998 when the current law on conscientious objection entered into force. No compensation, however, was granted for all fines and prison sentences imposed to this group of early objectors.
  • Supported by an international network of solidarity and lobby work the Ukrainian journalist and conscientious objector Ruslan Kotsaba was acquitted in July 2016. He had been arrested in February 2015 because of his appeal to refuse a mobilization that would lead to fratricide.
  • In Rojava, Kurdish region where a many years long struggle is being waged against ISIS, the right of conscientious objection has been recognized by the government of the Cizre canton in April 2016.

After its General Assemblies held in London (14 May 2016) and in Athens (19 November 2016) the European Bureau of Conscientious Objection expresses once more its concern that the credibility of international Human rights institutions on the European and United Nations level will strongly be damaged if the implementation of their resolutions and judgements cannot be achieved. It will consequently stay an important task for human rights NGOs to remind national governments of their responsibility to publicize and to execute the binding requests of international Human rights institutions.

Click here to read the full EBCO 2016 report in detail.