Germany

 

 

Germany

Conscription: No (suspended with effect from 1st July 2011).

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict: Signed (6 Sep 2000). Ratified (13 Dec 2004).
Voluntary recruitment age: 17.
Conscientious objection recognised for professional soldiers: Yes.
Military expenditure: 1.4% of GDP (data 2009).

Remarks:
1) Voluntary enlistment in the German armed forces was permissible at 17, provided that the individual volunteering had the consent of a parent or guardian. In such cases, a pre-induction medical examination took place six months before the applicant’s 17th birthday. Volunteers under 18 were enrolled for military training only, and were expressly prohibited from participating in any military operations and from performing any function requiring the use of firearms, including deployment for armed guard duty. However, 17-year-old volunteers could receive firearms training; at the time of their enrolment they received written instructions stating that their use of firearms would be strictly limited to training, and that they would not be involved in any activity that may lead to armed conflict. According to a new article 58 of the conscription law, the local authorities will have to hand over names and addresses of German youth - boys and girls - who will turn 18 in the following year, to the local military authorities (Kreiswehrersatzamt) at the beginning of the year, for the purpose of "sending information about a service in the Armed Forces". This means that in fact 16-17 year old youth can be contacted by the military, and can (and will) be sent military propaganda. While it is possible to object to this, this will need to happen in the year before the data will be passed on to the military authorities. This means some who turns 18 in May of year x will need to object to his or her data being passed on in year x-2, as the age of 16.
2) On Nov. 26, 2008, AWOL US soldier André Shepherd applied for asylum in Germany. His tour of duty in Iraq caused him to acknowledge that he could no longer take part in an illegal war which is contrary to the international laws of human rights. Because he does not fit the American military regulations´ definition of a conscientious objector, he decided to go Absent WithOut Leave (AWOL) and apply for asylum in Germany. In his application he pointed to the directive of the European Union, from October 2006. With this directive persons are to be protected who remove themselves from such wars or actions which are against human rights, and then must fear persecution. At the beginning of April 2011, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has denied AWOL U.S. soldier André Shepherd's application for asylum. On April 7 he instructed his attorney to institute legal proceedings against the negative ruling.

Recommendations:
1) Stop the voluntary recruitment of persons aged under 18.
2) Give political asylum to professional soldiers who develop conscientious objection during military missions abroad.
Notes: Many contract soldiers “Zeitsoldaten” apply for release under the conscientious objection provisions. A parliamentary reply on 30th March 2011 (Bundestag: Antwort des Parlamentarischen Staatssekretärs Thomas Kossendey vom 30.03.2011 auf Schriftliche Fragen des Bundestagsabgeordneten Paul Schäfer, Drucksache 17/5422 (Auszug)) revealed that 204 such applications had been lodged in 2008 and 370 in 2010, with a further 96 in the first two months of 2011. Applications are generally successful; there has not been a contested refusal within the last few years.
In 2007 and 2008 several total objectors were called up by the military, and were serving time in military arrest (e.g. Patrick Sander, Jan-Patrick Ehlert, Silvio Walther).

The German army (“Bundeswehr”) concludes cooperation treaties with the Federal Ministries of Education since 2009. In this context specialised youth officers of the army get access to schools and teachers training colleges in order to inform about national security and the armed forces. After a long process of public protests and discussions, in Rheinland-Pfalz region a first cooperation treaty between the Ministry of Education and a network of peace organisations will be signed in August 2011.