Parliamentary Assembly

Human rights of conscript soldiers

Doc. 10081
11 February 2004

Motion for a recommendation
presented by Mr Jurgens and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

            The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,

            Recalling Recommendation 1380 (1998), in which PACE, on recommendation of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, recommended that the Committee of Ministers formulate strict guidelines on the application of various articles of the European Convention of Human Rights to conscripts;

            Considering that the Committee of Ministers has failed to act on the recommendation, merely stating in its response that it “is confident that the European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of its control machinery already provide guidelines concerning the protection of the human rights of conscripts”;

            Considering that in the meantime six years have elapsed;

            Considering that the rights of hundreds of thousands of conscripts throughout Europe are routinely violated and that these include violations of the rights to life, the right to be free from torture and ill-treatment, freedom of expression and association, the right to adequate food and medical care, and the right to an effective domestic remedy;

            Considering that existing human rights standards lack specific provisions on conscripts and the unique nature of military service;

            Considering that in view of the special tasks performed in the armed forces the rights of conscripts may be subject to restrictions that go well beyond those that may be placed on most other groups but that neither the case law of the European Court of Human Rights nor special guidelines provide clear guidance on the extent of these restrictions;

            Considering that conscript soldiers are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses because they live in custodial conditions with limited ability to seek relief and remedy;

            Considering that for years the Council of Europe has strived to protect vulnerable groups against human rights violations;

            Considering that, as part of this effort, the Council of Europe has developed guidelines to protect the rights of prisoners and people committed to psychiatric institutions;

            Considering that no guidelines on the treatment of conscripts exist in the United Nations context;

            Considering that more than one million young men serve their countries as conscripts at any given moment in approximately half of the Council of Europe’s member states,

            Decides to draft guidelines on the treatment of conscripts, considering both civil and political as well as socio-economic rights and to prepare a new recommendations calling on the Committee of Ministers to adopt such guidelines.

Signed [1]:
Jurgens, Netherlands, SOC
Bartumeu Cassany, Andorra, SOC
Bemelmans-Videc, Netherlands, EPP/CD
Bindig, Germany, SOC
Bruce, United Kingdom, LDR
Davis, United Kingdom, SOC
Frunda, Romania, EPP/CD
Kox, Netherlands, SOC
Prica, Serbia and Montenegro, SOC
Škrabalo, Croatia, LDR



Socialist Group
Group of the European People’s Party
European Democratic Group
Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group
Group of the Unified European Left
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