Finland still has compulsory conscription
SOCIETY - Finland is one of the few countries in Europe that still have the conscription. The other European countries having compulsory military service are Greece, Switzerland and Cyprus.
After the Cold War most of the European countries gave up compulsory military service for young men. Just a few are still stuck in the old ways, and Finland is one of them. The need to have an army at this scale is argued to be necessary because of 1,340 kilometres of states border with Russia.
Conscription can take 165 to 347 days depending on the kind of service. Civil service, on the other hand, always takes 347 days and before 2008, it was even longer, i.e. 395 days.
Violation of freedom
Amnesty International points out that the length of the civil service can be regarded as a punishment. It also brings forth that the ones who are sentenced to prison for not contacting either civil service or armed conscription are prisoners of conscience. Their verdict is 181 days of unconditional imprisonment.
Instead of going to prison, since 2011 most of the total objectors have spent 181 days with an electronic tag.
‘ This control through the electronic tag is a pretty tough penalty and a deprivation of liberty. Even if human rights problems related to this punishment are far from resolved, the ankle tag has been an improvement,’ says from the Conscientious Objectors Organization.
Also the United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticized the length of Finland´s civil service and the imprisonment of total objectors. Women have had the opportunity to carry out the conscription since 1995.
Text: Marie von Bell, Photos: Chris Brown (CC BY-SA 2.0))