UN Commission/TRP's written statement on item 11
UN Commission/TRP's written statement on item 11
(already accepted by the UN)
UN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Fifty- fifth session
Agenda item 11(g)
CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS: THE QUESTION OF CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION TO MILITARY SERVICE
CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION TO MILITARY SERVICE IN RUSSIAN FEDERATION
Written statement submitted by Transnational Radical Party, a non-governmental organization in general consultative status
1. The right on conscientious objection to military service as a fundamental human right is recognized and guaranteed on international level, in particular by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (General Commitment No. 22 (48) 1993, Recommendation 1995/83 from March 8, 1995); by OSCE/SCSE (Document of SCSE Copenhagen Meeting on Human Dimension from June 29, 1990); by the Council of Europe (Recommendation No. R (87) 8 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States Regarding Conscientious Objection to Compulsory Military Service from 9 April 1987; Rodota Report, adopted by Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, Doc. 6752 from 29 January 1993); by the European Parliament (Resolutions from October 13, 1989 and from March 11, 1993; Recommendation from January 18, 1994).
2. In Russian Federation the conscientious objection right is guaranteed by the currently valid Constitution which has been adopted on December 12, 1993: "A citizen of the Russian Federation whose convictions and faith are at odds with military service and also in other cases stipulated by the federal law shall have the right to the substitution of an alternative civil service for military service" (Art. 59.3). According to the actual federal law "On military conscription and military service" all men between 18 and 27 who do not have any reason for respite, are subjected to obligatory military service. The federal law "On alternative civil service" whose draft has been adopted by the State Duma in the first lecture already in December 1994, has been rejected in the second lecture on October 7, 1998, has not yet been approved till now. Therefore, there is no legal procedure nowadays for granting alternative civilian service instead of military one for conscientious objectors. Adopting and introducing such a
law was among the obligations assumed by Russian Federation on its adhesion to the Council of Europe in February 1996.
3. At the same time, according to its Article 15, "The Constitution of the Russian Federation shall have supreme legal force and direct effect, and shall be applicable throughout the entire territory of the Russian Federation." Therefore, the conscientious objection right guaranteed by the Constitution represents from the juridical point of view an inalienable right of citizens even in absence of a special federal law on alternative civilian service.
4. In practice, citizens' right on conscientious objection is being widely contested by Military Commissariats (territorial bodies of Defence Ministry responsible for military call-up) and by Recruitment Commissions, formed by local civil authorities two times per year for the period of conscription campaigns. In violation of Constitution, Recruitment Commissions take decisions to recruit conscientious objectors. Conscientious objectors whose rights have been violated in this way, may appeal to the courts against these decisions. However, the courts adjudge mostly in favour of Recruitment Commissions and against the conscientious objectors, deciding not on the basis of the constitutional norms but on the traditional idea of "holy duty of every genuine man". Such anti-constitutional decrees are taken by the courts of various level, including the Supreme Court of Russian Federation. Thus, on November 23, 1997, Alexey Antropov from Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria received the answer for his appeal from the Supre
me Court, where it has been stated that the respective norm of the Constitution has no direct implementation in absence of federal law on alternative civilian service. In other cases, the courts explain their negative decisions by stating that the applicant "did not manage to prove his convictions in an appropriate way", although Art. 29.3 of Russian Constitution states clearly: "No one may be coerced into expressing one's views and convictions or into renouncing them."
5. According to the Art. 25 of the federal law "On military conscription and military service", in case of appealing to the court against a decision of Recruitment Commission, the implementation of this decisions should be suspended until the last instance court's decision on the matter. In the majority of cases however, Military Commissariats act on illegal basis, violating the law: being assisted by the militia, they bring by force and intimidation to barracks those conscientious objectors who are waiting for a court's decision on their appeal.
6. The exact amount of conscientious objectors in Russia is unknown, but it is sure there are thousands of them. According to the information from the General Staff of the Defence Ministry of Russian Federation, only during the autumn 1997 conscription campaign (from October to December 1997) there were 1.061 formal conscientious objection statements submitted to the recruitment commissions..
7. Since 1996, military commissariats act on the basis of secret directive of Defence Ministry, which prescribes to the military commissariats to accept conscientious objection statements and to despatch conscientious objectors to serve military service in units, where the service is not associated with "holding and using arms", giving them respective written guaranty if necessary. From the juridical point of view however, this directive does not solve the problem of conscientious objection, because military service in any troops assumes obligatory military oath, obeying orders and military training. In practice, the conscripts who agreed to be dispatched to such troops, find themselves serving military service in so called "construction battalions" in conditions much worse than any other military service, being subjected to torture and ill-treatment. However, the applicants do not always find themselves exactly in the troops where they have been supposedly dispatched according to the decision of the Recruit
8. In many cases conscientious objectors have been criminally prosecuted according to the Art. 328 of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation ("evading military or alternative civilian service"). It happens in spite of the Constitutional Court deliberation of May 22, 1996 which states that conscientious objection declared by a draftee according the Constitution does not form a crime provided by the Art.328.
9. Vadim Gesse (Noginsk, Moscow region) declared in December 1995 to the Recruitment Commission his intention to serve an alternative civilian service instead of military one. However, he has got the order to join the army. After he did not appear in the recruitment point, on January 25, 1996 he has been arrested, spent 40 days in prison and has been released only after interventions of Amnesty International, Transnational Radical Party and a press campaign. On May 13, 1996 he has been fully acquitted by the City Court of Noginsk.
10. Alexander Seregin, a Hare Krishna believer from Moscow, declared his conscientious objection to the Recruitment Commission in Spring 1996, demanding the alternative civilian service. After he did not arrive to the recruitment point, the criminal lawsuit has been opened against him. On October 24, 1996, the Cheremushkinsky Inter-municipal Court of Moscow sentenced him conditionally to two years of prison. However, on December 24, 1996, Moscow City Court cancelled this sentence and acquitted Alexander Seregin.
11. Vasily Bazhenov has been refused on April 4, 1997, by Tushinsky Inter-municipal Court of Moscow in complying with his appeal against Recruitment Commission which ignored his conscientious objection and decided to send him into the army. On June 2, 1997, Moscow City Court confirmed Tushinsky Court's decision. Since Bazhenov continued to insist on his constitutional right on conscientious objection, on January 5, 1998, Tushinsky prosecutor of Moscow opened a criminal lawsuit against him according to the Art. 328 of the Criminal Code. Nowadays Vasily Bazhenov is waiting for a trial.
12. On February 27, 1998 Alexander Borodin, accused on the Art. 328 of the Criminal Code in "evading military service", has been sentenced by the Golovinsky Inter-municipal Court of Moscow to the fine of 17.000 rubles (about 2.800 US dollars) for his conscientious objection.
13. Igor Smorodin (Sterlitamak, Republic of Bashkortostan) demanded in December 1996 the Recruitment Commission for the substitution of military service by the alternative civilian one. He did not obtain any answer and appealed to the court. The lawsuit has not been examined for a long time. On November 5, 1997, before any court's decision on the matter, the Recruitment Commission took a new decision to send Smorodin to military service. On November 21, 1997, the City Court of Sterlitamak decided in absentia to reject Smorodin's appeal. The court has not even informed Igor Smorodin about its appointed session. On December 22, 1997, Igor Smorodin has been informed about opening the criminal lawsuit against him on the accusation of "evading military service" (Art. 328 of the Criminal Code). On February 3, 1998, he has been arrested and placed into the prison where he faced pressure and intimidations forcing him to serve in military. On February 6, 1998, he has been released, but the criminal case against him h
as been closed only in May, 1998.
14. In Novosibirsk at least two other conscientious objectors have been sentenced in 1997 to fines for "evading military service".
15. In April 1998 in Moscow Alexey Bykov has been accused in "evading from military service". His criminal case has been closed at the end of December, 1998, after several court sessions.
16. Vadim Nazarov, a Jehowah Witness from Sochi (Krasnodar territory) has been arrested for his conscientious objection on April 29, 1998. On July 28 he has been sentenced by the Central district court of Sochi to one year of prison camp according the Art. 328. This sentence has been cancelled on September 9, 1998 by the Krasnodar Territorial Court and Vadim Nazarov has been released after four and a half months spent in jail.
17. On October 21, 1998 Sergej Sarychev has been sentenced by Golovinsky Inter-municipal court of Moscow for his conscientious objection to six months of imprisonment conditionally and amnestied.
18. It is necessary to anticipate however, that in reality the amount of sentenced and/or imprisoned conscientious objectors could be much higher.
19. It is therefore necessary to stress that serious and systematic violations of the fundamental right on conscientious objection are committed by the authorities of Russian Federation against thousands of young Russian citizens. It represents a flagrant violation both of international obligations of Russian Federation and its own Constitution.
20. The Transnational Radical Party appreciates the Commission's attention to the violations of conscientious objection right in Russian Federation. We believe that the Commission on Human Rights should recommend that the General Assembly and the Secretary-General take urgent action to put an end to the violations of this fundamental right in Russian Federation. We therefore call upon the Commission to adopt a strong resolution on conscientious objection in this session.