Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict: Signed (7 Sep 2000). Ratified (10 Apr 2002).
Compulsory recruitment age: 18.
Voluntary recruitment age: 18.
Duration of compulsory military service: 180, 270 or 362 days (6, 9 or 12 months; mostly 6 months).
Conscientious objection to military service recognised for conscripts: Yes, since 1931.
Duration of civilian service: 362 days (12 months).
Conscientious objection recognised for professional soldiers: No.
Military expenditure: 1.5% of GDP (data 2009).
1) There is no right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.
2) The civilian service has extremely punitive duration (100% longer than the military service).
3) Since the length of substitute service has become twice as long as military service in 1998 (due to the reduced length of military service), the number of total objectors has increased significantly. According to estimates by Aseistakieltäytyiäliitto, approximately 70 conscientious objectors declare themselves total objectors annually. Total objectors are sentenced according to two different laws, depending on whether they first applied for legal recognition as conscientious objector or not. Total objectors who are recognised as conscientious objectors and subsequently refuse to perform substitute service are sentenced according to Article 75 of the Civilian Service Act. According to the article, the maximum sentence is half of the remaining service time. However, if the sentence is less than half the remaining service time, then the total objector can be called up to finish his service after serving the prison sentence. The remainder of his service time is then calculated on the basis that each day in prison equals two days of civilian service. Total objectors who did not apply for conscientious objector status will be sentenced according to the Conscription Act.
On 1st of October 2008 there were 15 total objectors in Finnish jails.
Total objector Matti Petteri Pöntiö went to prison on 11 November 2008. Pöntiö broke off his substitute service on 17 April 2008 after about 8 months of service. Loviisa District Court sentenced him to 56 days imprisonment on 26 August 2008.
Sebastian Salminen, a 21-years old total objector from Oulu, went to prison on 6 October 2008. He had been ordered to perform his military service in the Infantry Brigade of Sodankylä. He refused and was sentenced to prison for 195 days by the Oulu district court (Oulun käräjäoikeus) on 27 November 2007. The charge was "refusing conscription". The Helsinki appeal court (Helsingin hovioikeus) shortened the sentence to 178 days on 30 July 2008. The shorter sentence is based on the new Alternative Service Act, which shortened both the duration of substitute service (from 395 days to 362 days) and maximum punishment of total objectors (from 197 days to 181 days).
Juhana Hirvonen, a 27-years old set designer from Helsinki, was imprisoned on 9 October 2008. He refused conscription on July 2007 and was sentenced to prison for 179 days (after appeal).
1) Recognise the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.
2) Make a civilian service of equal duration to the military one.
3) Stop prosecuting and imprisoning total objectors.