Amnesty International welcomes release of Yauhen Yakavenka and demands guarantees for him
Amnesty International has welcomed the release of a conscientious objector in Belarus who had been sentenced to one year in prison for “evading military service”.
"Yauhen Yakavenka’s release is a positive step but there is still no alternative civilian service in Belarus, which means that he may be summoned to perform military service again,” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International's researcher on Belarus. "The authorities must ensure that Yevgeny Yakovenko's right to conscientious objection is observed and that he is not prosecuted again for his beliefs."
Mr. Yakavenka was sentenced with one year of personal restraint for “evading military service”. On 23 July, the panel of judges of the Homel Region Court dismissed the cassation complaint of the activist of the Belarusian Christian Democracy against the verdict of the Tsentralny District Court of Homel. At the same time, the panel of judges granted him parole within the guidelines of the amnesty on the 65th anniversary of the victory in World War II.
"The Belarusian authorities must absolve all conscientious objectors from military service and provide them with a genuine civilian alternative," said Heather McGill.
’The right to refuse to perform military service for reasons of conscience is inherent in the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,’ AI reminds.