Oral Question with debate (Rule 115)

Question Time (Rule 116)


Written Question (Rule 117)

Priority Written Question (Rule 117 (4))





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The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection submitted a report, on November 8th 2010, on the state of conscientious objection in Greece to the UN Universal Periodic Review (1). Greece is among the last countries in Europe still upholding a compulsory military service. A form of civilian service was introduced by Law 2510/97, recently amended by Law 3883/2010, but the operation of civilian service has been riddled with problems. Questions arise regarding: A) Evaluation of the applications to perform civilian service still remains under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defence. Two of the five members of the special advisory committee are military officers, in breach with the principle that member states should establish independent and impartial decision-making bodies to consider applications for conscientious objector status (2); B) The length of civilian service is still punitive. In law its length is double the length of the military service and in a recent Ministerial Decision it was reduced to 15 months, while the vast majority of the conscripts serve a 9-month military service (3); C) The lack of adequate information on the possibility of applying for conscientious objector status (nothing written in the call-up papers), strict time-limits for applying, restrictive definition of conscientious objection, arbitrary refusal of recognition and possible revocation of the conscientious objector status; D) The prosecutions of conscientious objectors who refused military service before the entry into force of Law 2510/1997 (4).

The European Commission is therefore asked:

1. Is this situation in line with EU legislation and principles, including Art. 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Art. 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Art. 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

2. Given the aforementioned problematic issues, is the Greek State respecting effectively the right to conscientious objection?

3. What can be done to improve the situation? How can the European Commission protect European citizens who declare themselves as conscientious objectors against discrimination and prosecution?

(1) Concerns on the state of conscientious objection in Greece have also been repeatedly expressed by Amnesty International; most recently in its submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review on Greece.

(2) European Parliament Resolution of 7 February 1983 "points out that no court or commission can penetrate the conscience of an individual and that a declaration setting out the individual's motives must therefore suffice in the vast majority of cases to secure the status of conscientious objector";

(3) European Parliament Resolution of 11 March 1993 "stresses that an alternative civilian service should be provided for, of the same length as military service, so that it is not seen as a sanction or deterrent";

(4) European Parliament Resolution on respect for human rights in the European Union during 1996, (A4-0034/98), 120. Calls on Greece, therefore, (a) to release imprisoned conscientious objectors immediately and treat them in accordance with the new law, which provides for alternative civilian service, (b) to exempt those who refused military service prior to the entry into force of that law from civilian service, either completely or partly, depending on individual circumstances, as many of them have already had their freedom restricted, (c) to grant a full amnesty to all those who refused military service in the past, and (d) to grant all conscientious objectors full civil rights, in particular by giving them the right to a passport, allowing them, like all other European citizens, to move freely about the EU, and making acceptable provisions for Greek conscientious objectors living outside Greece;



Signature(s): Date: 02/02/2011