UN Human Rights Committee


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Information submitted by the International Fellowship of Reconcilitation and Conscience and Peace Tax International


(Jan/Feb 2016)

1. This submission was prepared in June 2015 on the basis of the latest information available.

Executive summary:

2. This submission focusses on the situation regarding military service and conscientious objection to military service in Singapore. Among the human rights concerns it identifies are:

3. Conscientious objection to military service is not recognised in law or practice. Singapore has not ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), under which this situation would be a clear breach of Article 18. It is however also contrary to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), which Singapore has endorsed.

The United Nations' Human Rights' Committee have published new concluding observations following the examination of Austria and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as part of the Universal Periodic Review.

The Committee called upon the state of Austria to 'ensure that the length of service alternative to military service required for conscientious objectors is not punitive in nature.'

It demanded that the Republic of Korea:

'(a) Immediately release all conscientious objectors condemned to a prison sentence for exercising their right to be exempted from military service;

(b) Ensure that the criminal records of conscientious objectors are expunged, that they are provided with adequate compensation and that their information is not publicly disclosed; and

(c) Ensure the legal recognition of conscientious objection to military service, and provide conscientious objectors with the possibility to perform an alternative service of civilian nature.

* Adopted by the Committee at its 115th session (19 October–6 November 2015)

C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations

Views under the Optional Protocol

6. The Committee remains concerned about the absence of a specific mechanism to implement the Committee’s Views under the Optional Protocol In particular, the Committee notes with concern that the State party has, except in one case, failed to implement the Committee’s Views, notably the numerous cases concerning conscientious objection (art. 2).

7. The State party should establish mechanisms and appropriate procedures to give full effect to the Committee’s Views so as to guarantee effective remedies in all cases of violations against the Covenant It should also fully implement the Views the Committee has issued so far.

* Adopted by the Committee at its 115th session (19 October–6 November 2015).

Freedom of conscience and religious belief

33. The Committee notes that the length of the civilian alternative service to military service for conscientious objectors is longer than military service and may be punitively long if not based on reasonable and objective grounds (arts. 18 and 26).

32. The State party is encouraged to ensure that the length of service alternative to military service required for conscientious objectors is not punitive in nature.

Geneva, 23rd October 2015

The United Nations' Human Rights Committee this morning completed its examination of the Fourth Periodic Report of the Republic of (South) Korea under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Since a delegation from Korea last appeared before the Committee in October 2006, the Committee has published its “Views” - quasi-judicial verdicts - on five groups of individual cases brought under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant concerning more than five hundred conscientious objectors, all of whom had been imprisoned for eighteen months for their refusal of military service. The Committee expressed its concern that, despite the delegation's protestations of respect for its obligations under the Covenant, none of these views had been implemented.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has found that the state of Turkmenistan has violated Article 7, Article 10(1), Article 14(7) because he was tried and sentenced twice for his refusal to do military service and Article 18(1).

7.2...The Committee takes note of the author’s claim that, upon arrival at the LBK-12 prison on 3 April 2012, he was subjected to ill-treatment by the prison guards in violation of article 7 of the Covenant. It notes that the author has provided a detailed description of the manner in which he was ill-treated while in isolation, as well as the identity of the organizer of his ill-treatment. The author claimed that he was placed in the colony’s isolation block for 10 days, was beaten, subjected to “goose stepping”, doing push-ups, running, and sitting on the floor with stretched-out legs. The Committee further notes that the author’s detailed allegations and his argumentation regarding the lack of adequate mechanisms for investigation of torture claims in Turkmenistan were not refuted by the State party. The Committee also recalls that complaints of ill-treatment must be investigated promptly and impartially by competent authorities.1 In the absence of any other pertinent information on file, the Committee decides that due weight must be given to the author’s allegations. Accordingly, it concludes that the facts as presented reveal a violation of the author’s rights under article 7 of the Covenant.

United Nations


Distr.: General

14 January 2015


Original: English

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

14. While welcoming the legislative changes allowing for non-military services applications during mobilizations and serious disturbances and the fact that total objectors can be exempted from unconditional imprisonment, the Committee reiterates its concerns that the length of non-military service is almost twice the duration of the period of service for the rank and file and that the preferential treatment accorded to Jehovah’s Witnesses has not been extended to other groups of conscientious objectors (art. 18).

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