İnan Süver

İnan Süver

Turkey may decriminalize conscientious objection to military service

by Today‘s Zaman

(15.11.2011) The Turkish government is considering legalizing conscientious objection to military service, state ministers said on Tuesday, signaling a surprising reversal on a long-held policy.

“The Defense Ministry will assess the issue of conscientious objectors,” Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin told reporters in Ankara. “It will be discussed and, if it is seen as appropriate, it will be brought to Parliament’s agenda.”

Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, responding to questions after Ergin’s remarks, said the government will examine examples from countries that provide legal protection for conscientious objectors.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government has undertaken many drastic reforms to undermine military influence over politics since it first came to power in 2002, but has been reluctant to respond to calls for legal protection for conscientious objectors.

Military service is compulsory for all healthy men aged between 20 and 40 in Turkey.1 Those who refuse to fulfill their military service may face imprisonment. Turkey and Azerbaijan are the only two signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights that have not legalized conscientious exemption from military service.


1 In fact there is no age limit. The conscription is still valid until the military service is done.

Today‘s Zaman: Turkey may decriminalize conscientious objection to military service. 15 November 2011. Source:

Keywords:    ⇒ Conscientious Objection   ⇒ Conscription   ⇒ Human Rights   ⇒ Turkey