Constitutional Court of Korea set to rule on conscientious objectors
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Constitutional Court of Korea set to rule on conscientious objectors

August 23, 2019


The Constitutional Court of Korea will rule
today… on whether it’s constitutional to punish those refusing military duty on the
grounds of religious beliefs or conscience. Kan Hyeong-woo reports. South Korea’s current Military Service Act
requires that “every male of the country shall faithfully perform military service.” However, there have been cases of so-called
‘conscientious objection to military service’… where people refuse to do their service on
the grounds of religious beliefs or conscience. The Constitutional Court of Korea is set to
rule again this Thursday afternoon on whether punishing conscientious objectors goes against
the constitution. The ruling will mark the fourth judgment on
the issue after the court made two decisions in 2004 and another in 2011. In all three cases, the court ruled that holding
objectors criminally accountable for violating the Military Service Act was constitutional. There’s long been debate over whether the
right to refuse to perform military service should be given in a country where national
security remains an important issue given the political situation on the Korean Peninsula. Conscientious objectors want the court on
Thursday to switch from its past decisions and legally allow alternatives for military
duty. The court previously had ruled that there
could not be any substitutes. Cases of conscientious objection in South
Korea have seen mixed rulings in different courts. Defendants in all 83 cases since 2004 were
found innocent by the lower courts, but every ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court. The current law says that refusing to be drafted
without acceptable reasons is punishable by a prison term of up to three years. Kan Hyeong-woo, Arirang News

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