June 29, 2018 12:19
The Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that the government must provide alternative duties for conscientious objectors instead of imprisoning them.
The landmark 6:3 ruling finds it unconstitutional to require all young men to be drafted into military service even if they have profound religious objections to carrying arms.
But the court upheld a ruling in 2004 that it is constitutional for the government to punish those who dodge the draft.
The latest ruling paves the way for conscientious objectors to avoid punishment by performing social services of some kind, as was the case in West Germany before the draft was abolished.
Some 20,000 conscientious objectors have served jail time for avoiding the mandatory draft.
"Not allowing alternative measures for conscientious objectors to military service for religious reasons violates their freedom of conscience," the court said in its ruling. "Considering that military manpower is growing less important in national defense capabilities, the implementation of alternative service cannot be seen as a threat to national defense."
But the decision will not take effect immediately in order to minimize confusion. Instead, the court ordered the government to enact a law by the end of next year to introduce an alternative service.
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