Turkey says working to address conscientious objection

Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has said his ministry is continuing to work on options for dealing with conscientious objectors.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the minister said their efforts are aimed at protecting the Turkish state from new fines to be imposed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) due to Turkey's policy of mandatory military service. In Turkey, military service is compulsory for all male citizens over the age of 20; however, if a man is enrolled in an institution of higher learning, he is allowed to delay his service until he completes his education.

“We are working on a plan for conscientious objection. Males will either serve in the military or be allowed to skip out on service by agreeing to submit to penalties,” the minister said. He did not elaborate on what such penalties might entail.

According to Article 72 of the Constitution, all Turkish citizens must perform military service: “National service is the right and duty of every Turk. The manner in which this service shall be performed, or considered as performed, either in the Armed Forces or in public service shall be regulated by law.” In addition, Article 45 of the Military Penal Code explicitly states, “Individuals may not evade military service, and penalties may not be revoked, for religious or moral reasons.” Such legal mandates make conscientious objection a crime in Turkey.

27 June 2012 / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,
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