Brussels 24-10-2020: Is this democracy? Greece brings another civilian before military court


Greece brings a civilian to stand trial before a military court, and what is more, he is a conscientious objector, whose application to serve civilian service was rejected by the Ministry of Defence.

“It’s not just a paradox, it’s a multiple blatant violation of European and international human rights standards”, EBCO’s President Friedhelm Schneider stated today. “And it’s also a scandal, because K.K. had applied to serve an extremely punitive civilian service, and nevertheless he was not allowed to”. The European Bureau for Conscientious is shocked to observe that by harassing and prosecuting conscientious objectors for decades, Greek authorities continue to commit comparable human rights violations to those which in the case of conscientious objectors in Turkey have repeatedly been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights, and lastly on 4 June 2020 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

K.K., 45-year-old now, declared his conscientious objection on ideological grounds in 2003, and applied for civilian service, which at that time was 30-month-long, whereas the military service was 12-month-long. His application was rejected by the Ministry of Defence in 2004, following a negative opinion by the consultative special committee, widely known as “Conscience Examination Committee”. His appeals were also rejected. K.K., remaining always consistent with his beliefs, did not join the army. So he was subsequently charged with insubordination, and he was fined 6.000 euros. He refused to pay the fine, and finally the Tax Service confiscated the money from his bank account.

The Military Court of Athens has called K.K. to stand trial on Monday October 26th 2020. A representative of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection will attend the trial as an observer. EBCO calls for the charges against K.K. to be dropped and for the confiscated money to be returned to him.

K.K. should have not been prosecuted in the first place, as his prosecution is in violation of the European and international human rights law. More specifically Greece’s treatment of K.K. throughout the years constitute:

Violation of his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights)

Violation of the right to freedom from discrimination (Article 26 of ICCPR and Article 14 of the ECHR) as he has been discriminated for reasons of belief.

Violation of the right to be free to leave any country, including his own (Article 12.2 of ICCPR and Article 2.2 of the 4th Protocol to the ECHR), as he has been prevented to travel abroad for several years.

Violation of the right to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law (Article 14.1 of ICCPR and Article 6 of the ECHR, as found by the European Court of Human Rights in the cases of conscientious objectors tried in military courts).

The continuous persecution of K.K. and violation of his human rights illustrate not only the vindictive stance of the military authorities against the conscientious objectors, but also reflect the situation of many more conscientious objectors in Greece despite numerous condemnations by international human rights instruments and the repeated promises of several Greek governments for reform. Last but not least, it shows the even more discriminatory treatment of conscientious objectors by the current government, which has even abolished some of the positive amendments introduced by the previous government.


Press Contact: Ms Alexia Tsouni, +30 6974461210,