The Colombian Constitutional Court ruled that conscientious objectors to Colombia’s compulsory military service have the right to request an exemption from duty.
In a 111 page document, the court gave its findings on a controversial case that began in April 2009 when two Colombians appealed compulsory military duty on moral grounds.
After lengthy debate, the court found that conscientious objection should be judged on a case-by-case basis and that current legislation prohibiting conscientious objection should not contravene what is an inalienable right.
As a result, conscientious objectors may now be exempt from compulsory military service if their objections are found to be “deep, fixed and sincere.”
The Colombian constitution states that “all Colombian males are obliged to define their military situation from the date they come of age.”
Of-age males may be exempt for educational or health reasons. It is common practice that men eligible for military service are ruled exempt if they pay a bribe.
Now that the court has ruled on the constitutional right to conscientiously object, Colombia’s Congress must reform legislation on the issue.