Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

Czech Republic: Whether it is illegal for a Czech citizen to join the French Foreign Legion and if so, what the punishment is for having done so (December 1999)

Publisher Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 22 December 1999
Citation / Document Symbol CZE33479.E
Reference 2
Cite as Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Czech Republic: Whether it is illegal for a Czech citizen to join the French Foreign Legion and if so, what the punishment is for having done so (December 1999), 22 December 1999, CZE33479.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad4b38.html [accessed 19 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The following information was provided in a 22 December 1999 telephone interview with the Consul, who is also a lawyer, at the General Consulate of the Czech Republic in Montreal.

The Criminal Code of 1961 stipulates that only with the president's permission may a Czech citizen serve in a foreign army. The Military Service Act provides the details of this permission. The presidential permission is carried out after seeking the opinion of the Ministry of Defence on a case by case basis. In cases where the Czech citizen served in a foreign army, including the French Foreign Legion, and had not received the presidential permission, he/she may be pardoned. The process of pardoning is done on an individual basis.

Punishment for serving in a foreign army without permission, which is decided by the Czech courts, can be a prison sentence of from 3 to 8 years. However, according to the Consul, this punishment would unlikely be handed down today given that this "crime" in question does not constitute a danger to society. She further stated that the "crime" of serving in a foreign army without permission and its punishment as outlined in the Criminal Code are obsolete as they are not enforced given the political and economic reality in the Czech Republic today. Czechs who have served in the French Foreign Legion or any other foreign army would not be actively pursued by the Czech authorities. If such a case were brought before the courts, it would most likely be dismissed on the grounds that the person does not present a social danger to society. The Consul was unaware of any such cases currently before the courts.

The French Embassy in Washington states on its Website that a Legionnaire may join the French Foreign Legion under an assumed name and serves with the protection of an anonymity rule that "only he can decide when to break it" (1999).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

French Embassy, Washington. 1999. "The Legionnaire's Thoughts." [Accessed on 22 Dec. 1999]

General Consulate of the Czech Republic, Montreal. 22 December 1999. Telephone interview with the Consul.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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