conscientious objectors need our support


War Resisters' International, London, 12 December 2006

COLOMBIA: Conscientious objector Luis Fernando Callejas recruited to military by force

War Resisters' International learned today that Luis Fernando Callejas (COL14912), who will turn 25 on 13 December, was recruited by force on 9 December during a search of Colombian military in Cali. Between 11 and 12 at night, soldiers of the 3rd brigade of the Colombian military carried out a search of the neighbourhoods of Mariano Ramos and Republica de Israel of Cali, and rounded up youth of recruitment age.

Luis Fernando Callejas is officially a "remiso" (draft evader), and did so far not publicly declare his conscientious objection. However, according to information received from his sister, Luis Fernando Callejas has repeatedly expressed his opposition to taking part in the armed conflict in Colombia, and does not want to be part of a process of dehumanisation and terror.

War Resisters' International is very concerned about the safety of Luis Fernando Callejas. According to Colombian and international law, recruitment by detention as practised in his case is illegal, although it is common practise in Colombia. The present detention of Luis Fernando Callejas is therefore arbitrary.

The forced recruitment is a violation of the "right to personal liberty (Article 7), the protection of human dignity (Article 11) and the right to freedom of movement (Article 22), guaranteed in the American Convention on Human Rights, in connection with Article 1.1 of that same legal instrument", according to a decision of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in a very similar case from Guatemala (CASE 10.975, 6 October 1993). This alone should be reason enough for the immediate discharge of Luis Fernando Callejas from the military. Although Art. 18 of the 1991 Constitution states that "(...) freedom of conscience is guaranteed. No one will be obliged to act against their conscience", Colombia does not recognise the right to conscientious objection.

According to a 1945 Law, those who fail to respond to call-up are considered remiss (remiso) and cannot enter university or obtain a passport (Ley 1a de 1945). Those who refuse to perform military service are considered deserters.

The penalties for desertion are prescribed by arts. 115 to 117, Chapter III, of the Military Penal Code. Art. 115 prescribes a penalty for desertion of six months' to two years' imprisonment. If the desertion occurs in wartime, during a domestic uprising or public unrest or while in the vicinity of rebel forces the punishment may be doubled (art. 116). If a deserter returns voluntarily within eight days of desertion the penalty may be reduced by a half (art. 117).

War Resisters' International calls for urgent protest letters and faxes to the Colombian authorities:

  • Comandante Tercera Brigada del Ejercito Nacional. Cali, Valle de Cauca, Fax: +57-2-3307161

  • Dr Angelino Garz√≥n, Gobernador del Valle de Cauca, Carrera 6 entre calles 9 y 10, Edificio Palacio de San Francisco, Santiago de Cali, Fax +57-2-885 8813, email: gobierno@valledelcauca.gov.co. An email protest letter can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20061212a.html.

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release and discharge from the military of Luis Fernando Callejas.

More information on conscientious objection in Colombia is available at http://wri-irg.org/co/colcampaign-en.htm.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

Archives of co-alert can be found at http://wri-irg.org/news/alerts

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