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Defense Ministry: Too Early to Introduce Alternative Service

Defense Ministry: Too Early to Introduce Alternative Service

Posted June. 05, 2007 04:57,   


Recently, after the completion of a year-long study, the Defense Ministry reached the conclusion that it is too early to offer an alternative service to conscientious objectors, and submitted a related report to Cheong Wa Dae, sources claimed.

The Research Committee for the Alternative Service (RCAS), comprising 17 experts from civil organizations, the government and the military, concluded that the timing is premature to provide an alternative service to conscientious objectors, considering fairness to other draftees, the unique situation of a divided nation, and public sentiment, military sources said on Monday.

The RCAS wrapped up its year-long activities after submitting a report last month, containing the above conclusion, to Cheong Wa Dae; after receiving approval from Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo.

Prior to this, the Ministry of Justice, which announced the National Action Plans for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (NAP), a roadmap to national human rights policies, on May 22, said, in regards to granting an alternative to conscientious objectors, it would draft a follow-up measure based on the findings of the research committee under the Defense Ministry.

The Defense Ministry launched the RCAS in April 2006 after the National Human Rights Commission advised the ministry, in December 2005, to recognize the constitutional freedom of conscientious objectors and to introduce an alternative service for them. Then-Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung said he would decide whether to introduce alternative forms of compulsory military duty based on the conclusion of the RCAS.

The RCAS held monthly meetings to hear from conscientious objectors and to review alternative services implemented in other countries, such as Germany and Taiwan.

Although the RCAS was scheduled to complete its research by the end of 2006, it extended the deadline to June 2007 due to dissenting opinions within the committee over the introduction of an alternative form of military service.

“The fact that a considerable number of conscientious objectors belong to a certain religious group seems to have had a negative impact on the conclusion,” said a military official.

According to the Military Manpower Administration, 4,130 people were charged and convicted between 2000 and 2006 on charges of refusing to fulfill their mandatory military service.