Local draft board denies conscientious objector status for Jehovah's Witness


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 16 June 2017


A draft commission in Crimea demanded of a conscript, a Jehovah's Witness, that he present a document about has renunciation of his faith and transfer into another faith.


On 9 June 2017, the believer, making a routine visit to the local military commissariat, received the offer of performing alternative civilian service. He agreed, adding that it was this that for a long time he had been seeking. But then he was told that the right to perform alternative civilian service will be accorded only on condition of renunciation of his own religious views.


In two draft notices it was demanded that the conscript appear at the military commission "for presenting documents about change of faith." It was not explained to the believer just what faith he was supposed to convert to or also where to get such documents, but it was added that in the event of refusal, he would be taken to trial.


The 28th article of the constitution of the Russian republic guarantees each citizen "the right to profess . . . any religion or not to profess any." Neither the Supreme Court nor any other trial instance has ever restricted this right as applied to Jehovah's Witnesses nor banned the views of Jehovah's Witnesses as a crime.


Article 59 of the Russian constitution says: "A citizen of the Russian federation, in the event that his convictions or religious confession forbid the performance of military service, and also in other circumstances prescribed by federal law, has the right to substitute for it alternative civilian service." The law does not stipulate just what kind of convictions the conscript should have. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 June 2017)


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