Georgia: Process of recruitment, age and duration of military service; possibility of alternative military service, process for non-military alternative service, terms and conditions for such service, age, basis for alternative service and duration of such service; translation into English of two laws related to military service (the Law on Military Service and Obligations and the Law on Non-military Alternative Labour) (2005)
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||15 April 2005|
|Citation / Document Symbol||GGA43464.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Georgia: Process of recruitment, age and duration of military service; possibility of alternative military service, process for non-military alternative service, terms and conditions for such service, age, basis for alternative service and duration of such service; translation into English of two laws related to military service (the Law on Military Service and Obligations and the Law on Non-military Alternative Labour) (2005), 15 April 2005, GGA43464.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/42df60ea20.html [accessed 20 June 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
A 2001 source stated that the draft for military service occurs twice a year in Georgia, in autumn and in the spring (Denmark Nov. 2001).
The 2005 spring draft (1 February to 31 May) will result in 4,500 young men reporting to the armed forces (Interfax AVN 1 Feb. 2005; see also Imedi Radio 1 Feb. 2005). The age of recruitment is 18 to 27 as stated in "the law on military duty and service" (Interfax AVN 1 Feb. 2005; see also Imedi Radio 1 Feb. 2005).
For the first time, parents of the draftees will have access to "get acquainted with service conditions" after complaints concerning "unbearable service conditions" were made by 60 soldiers who fled the military garrisons in the city of Mukhrovani in December 2004 (Interfax AVN 1 Feb. 2005).
An ITAR-TASS article stated that military service has been extended from one year to a year and a half (25 Feb. 2005). The measure, which was to be implemented in the spring of 2005 and last until 1 January 2008, will not be applied to the current military personnel (ITAR-TASS 25 Feb. 2005). According to the Tbilisi-based Imedi TV, the Georgian parliament simply suspended a decision made in July 2004 to reduce military service to one year (23 Feb. 2005).
The Georgian-European Policy and Legal Advice Center (GEPLAC) indicated that the length of military service is 12 months for people "with higher education" and 24 months for people without it, while the non-military alternative is set to last 18 or 24 months for the same categories of people (2003). Another source indicated that the length of military service for students is six months, while other recruits will serve one year (Imedi TV 8 Aug. 2004).
In the past, Georgian authorities refrained from conscripting Jehovah's Witnesses in order to avoid having to grant conscientious objection status (War Resisters' International 8 July 2003). The poor conditions in the army and the desire to avoid conscription would have resulted in a significant increase of the number of people claiming to be Jehovah's Witnesses (ibid.).
Kavkasia-Press, a news agency based in Tbilisi, reported that the law on conscription and military service was amended in June 2002, which resulted in local authorities having more duties, including conscription (22 June 2002). As well, the military service was divided into three categories: "mandatory, contract (professional) [and] career and reserve services" (Kavkasia-Press 22 June 2002).
Kavkasia-Press stated that, based on recommendations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), measures were "partially implemented" for the "introduction of professional military service" (31 Oct. 2004). Imedi TV reported that the monthly pay of soldiers was to rise from 4 to 60 laris [CDN $ 2.70 and $40.47 (Xe.com 13 Apr. 2005)] (8 Aug. 2004).
Possibility of an alternative to military service, deferment and exemption
War Resisters' International stated that the different laws on non-military alternative service in Georgia "[have] not been implemented] and that the law on civilian alternative service "does not meet the Council of Europe standards" (8 July 2003).
GEPLAC stated that the right to conscientious objection is enshrined in article 19 of the Georgian constitution (2003). According to this source, conscientious objection as defined in the Law on Non-Military Alternative Labour Service can be based on "thought, conscience or religion" (GEPLAC 2003).
The United Nations Human Rights Committee "expresse[d] its concern" in relation to the length of 36 months for the non-military service alternative in comparison to only 18 months for military service and "regret[ed] the lack of clear information on ... conscientious objection to military service" (UN 19 Apr. 2002). War Resisters' International, which considers 36 months as "punitive," also denounces the fact that the only accepted ground for conscientious objection is religion, and stated that the alternative service "is probably not completely civilian" (8 July 2003). GEPLAC stated that any citizen refusing to comply with military service for a reason of thought, conscience, or religion will be permitted to perform the non-military alternative service (2003).
According to WRI, no independent decision-making entity has been established to deal with conscientious objection applications (War Resisters' International 8 July 2003). In fact, War Resisters' International stated that, as of 8 July 2003, "conscientious objection [was] not available in practice yet" (ibid.).
However, GEPLAC indicated that the State Commission on Non-Military, Alternative Service is in charge of conscription for this kind of service (2003). The work accomplished within non-military service includes "emergency and rescue, ecology, fire-prevention, construction, agriculture, health, municipal service" (GEPLAC 2003).
Failure to comply with the obligation of the non-military alternative service results with sanctions under Georgian laws: missed days of non-military service are doubled and "criminal liability" is planned for evasion of non-military service (ibid.).
The deferment of military service for one year costs "200 laris (about 110 USD)" and a payment of "2,000 laris (about 1,100 USD) allows for full exemption (Interfax AVN 1 Feb. 2005; see also Imedi Radio 1 Feb. 2005). This measure became effective after Georgian authorities decided, on 21 July 2002 to reduce the number of military personnel from 25,000 to 12,000; as of 19 August 2002, 124 people had made use of the provision (Kavkasia Press 19 Aug. 2002). However, Imedi TV stated that the deferment for 200 laris was valid for six months, but that its abolition was to be debated in parliament, as a way to "reduce the number of draft-dodgers" (8 Aug. 2004). The Financial Times Information Limited stated that the possibility of buying deferment or an exemption from service in the Georgian army was removed by President Mikhail Saakashvili soon after his election in January 2004 (Assa-Irada News Agency 27 Oct. 2004). However, Imedi Radio indicated on 1 February 2005 that the "one-year deferment" for 200 laris and the possibility of a total exemption for a 2,000 laris fee were still in place for the spring 2005 draft.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta stated that the possibility of buying exemption for military service was a way of regulating something that was already happening (18 Apr. 2002).
No English copies of the Law of Georgia on Military Service and Obligations and the Law of Georgia on Non-Military, Alternative Labour could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. Furthermore, the Tbilisi-based Human Rights Information and Documentation Center (HRIDC) was also unable to find English versions of the laws (29 March 2005).
Forum 18 reported on the situation in Abkhazia and the dislike of the authorities of the refusal by Jehovah's Witneses to perform military service as being linked to a ban on the religious group's activities (27 Apr. 2004). The right to an alternative to military service is not recognized in Abkhazia; between 1995 and 2000, at least 30 Jehovah's Witnesses were imprisoned for refusing military service (War Resisters' International 8 July 2003).
According to RBC News, the Georgian government declared that it would punish people who perform their military service in the region of Adzharia, since "all [of its] military units have been declared illegal" (30 Apr. 2004). Georgia asked people to refuse to be drafted by Adzharia's authorities and opened registration offices in Georgia for Adzhar draftees (RBC News 30 Apr. 2004).
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 for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Assa-Irada News Agency [Baku]. 27 October 2004. "Georgia Reduces Military Service Term." (Financial Times Information Limited/Dialog)
Denmark. November 2001. Danish Immigration Service. "People Are Called Up for Military Service Twice a Year, in Spring and Autumn." (ECOI.net)
Forum 18 News [Oslo]. 27 April 2004. Felix Corley. "Abkhazia: JW's Still Banned and Georgian Orthodox Still Barred."
Georgian-European Policy and Legal Advice Center (GEPLAC). 2003. Vol. 6, No. 4. Georgian Law Review. Konstantin Korkelia. "Freedoms of Belief, Religion and Conscience Under the Georgian Constitution."
Human Rights Information and Documentation Center (HRIDC) [Tbilisi]. 29 March 2005. Correspondence from a representative.
Imedi Radio [Tbilisi, in Georgian]. 1 February 2005. "Georgian Military Announces Spring Call-Up." (BBC International Reports/Dialog)
Imedi TV [Tbilisi, in Georgian]. 23 February 2005. "Georgia Reverts to Longer Military Service Amid Opposition Criticism." (BBC International Reports/Dialog)
_____. 8 August 2004. "New Georgian Law to Halve Length of Military Service." (BBC International Reports/Dialog)
Interfax-AVN [Moscow]. 1 February 2005. "Spring Draft Starts in Georgia." (Dialog)
ITAR-TASS [Moscow]. 25 February 2005. "Georgia – Military Service to be Extended." (Dialog)
Kavkasia-Press [Tbilisi]. 31 Oct. 2004. "Georgia Starts Implementation of NATO Partnership Plan." (BBC International Reports/Dialog)
_____. 19 August 2002. "New Law Allows Georgian to Buy Themselves Out of Military Service." (BBC International Reports/Dialog)
_____. 22 June 2002. "Georgia Amends Law on Military Service." (BBC International Reports/Dialog)
Nezavisimaya Gazeta [Moscow]. 18 April 2002. Anatoly Gordienko. "How Much is it Worth to Stay Civil? Georgia is Going to Legalize Evading Military Service." (Dialog)
RBC News [Moscow]. 30 April 2004. "Georgian Security Council Secretary Comments on Adzharia." (Dialog)
United Nations. 19 April 2002. Human Rights Committee. Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 40 of the Covenant; Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee. (CCPR/CO/74/GEO)
War Resisters' International (WRI). 8 July 2003. The Right to Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Selected Member States of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe: Report to the OSCE Supplementary Meeting on Freedom of Religion or Belief, 17-18 July 2003, Hofburg, Vienna. "Georgia."
Xe.com. 13 April 2004. "Universal Currency Converter."
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: The Parliament of Georgia and the Embassy of Georgia to the USA, Canada and Mexico did not provide information within the time constraints of this Response.
Internet sources, including: Civil Georgia Online, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004, ECOI.net, European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, Human Rights Watch, Parliament of Georgia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, World News Connection.