Ivan Mikhailau to be tried on 29 January
According to information of Mikhail Pashkevich, leader of the campaign For alternative civil service, the trial on the case brought against Ivan Mikhailau, believer of Jewish-messianic community, will take place on 29 January at the Minsk district court.
Ivan Mikhailau has already spent three weeks in Zhodzina pre-trial prison awaiting a trial for evasion from military service. On 31 December his case was passed to court. Ivan hoped for service in the military reserve and stated that his religious views didn’t allow him serving in the army. Now he faces up to 6 months of arrest under Article 435 of the Criminal Code. Mikhailau does not agree to being labeled as deviator from military service and says he is ready to alternative service.
Meanwhile, the civil right to alternative service ensues from Article 57 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus. This article provides that the defense of the Republic of Belarus is a sacred duty of a Belarusian citizen. The order of the military service, the reasons and the conditions of its replacement with alternative service are determined by the law.
Thus, the Constitution does not consider military service as the only possible and unconditional variant, as the possibility of freeing from the military service or its replacement with alternative service are stated in it.
Correspondingly, the Constitution provides the right of citizens to execute their obligation and sacred duty to defend the Fatherland in the forms that are provided by the Constitution, i.e. also by means alternative service.
According to Article 4 of the law of the Republic of Belarus of 15 March 1994 On the order of entry into force of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus that laws that are mentioned in the Constitution, were to have been adopted within two years after its coming into effect, i.e. by 30 March 1996.
However, neither the Supreme Soviet of the 12th Convocation, nor the Supreme Soviet of the 13th Convocation implemented this requirement and didn’t solve the question of the grounds and conditions for replacement of military service with alternative service and the conditions of the latter, by adopting a special law.
Bear in mind that Article 57 was left in this edition even after the amendments of the Constitution after the referenda of 1996 and 2004. There are norms that allow the Parliament to postpone the implementation of Article 57 on the legislative level. Despite this, the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus still hasn’t adopted a law aimed at the implementation of this article of the Constitution.
Refusal from military service for moral reasons (including religious and other convictions) also concerns other personal rights enshrined in the Constitution and other international treaties in the sphere of human rights that were ratified by the country.
In particular, according to Article 31 of the Constitution, every person has the right to independently determine the attitude to religion, confess any religion individually or in association with others or not confess any religion, express or distribute the views concerning the attitude to religion, participate in the administration of the cults, rites and rituals that are not banned by the law.
These rights are also guaranteed by norms of the international legislation, the priority of which is officially acknowledged by the Republic of Belarus, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The right of every individual to refuse from the military service was also recognized by the UN Human Rights Council.
Such right of citizens of the Republic of Belarus was also recognized in Belarus. In the Ruling of the Consitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus of 26 May 2000 On certain issues of realization of Article 57 of the Republic of Belarus it is stated:
1. to point that citizens of the Republic of Belarus, according to the Constitution, have the right, in particular, for replacement of the military service because of their religious views. In connection with this, to consider as urgent the adoption of the law on alternative service or amendment of the Law On universal military service with the aim of establishing a mechanism for exercising the right to alternative service. To agree, for the period of decision of the questions of the conditions and reasons for replacement of the military service, with the practice of creating (in conformity with Articles 31, 57 and 59 and other articles of the Constitution) of the conditions for implementation by citizens of the Republic of Belarus their duties on the defense of the Republic of Belarus in the forms that don’t violate their religious views.
Therefore, the Human Rights Center Viasna demands an immediate release of Ivan Mikhailau from jail and cessation of the criminal persecution towards him.
The Human Rights Center Viasna demands from the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus to urgently adopt the law on alternative service as a practical mechanism for realization of the provisions of Article 57 of the Constitution.