the friend online
15 June 2007


Colombian conscientious objectors receive Quaker fillip - preview
Say 'Colombia' and most people think of armed conflict, murders and massacres, drugs and organised crime, and general violence
  • However, Colombia is also the scene of a rapidly growing movement of conscientious objectors to military service (COs)

  • These COs face formidable obstacles
  • Colombia does not recognize conscientious objection
  • It has universal male conscription
  • Without his 'libreta militar' (military card), a young man cannot graduate from university or get a job
  • He is also liable to recruitment at any time, since much of the 'enforcement' of conscription is in practice undertaken by stopping young men on the street, at bus stations etc
  • and asking for their libreta militar
  • Anyone unable to produce this is immediately loaded onto the waiting army truck (with a wire cage on the back) and taken to the barracks for immediate enrolment
  • 'This is not a theoretical concern for young COs,' said Rachel Brett, Quaker UN Office Representative on Human Rights and Refugees
  • 'During my recent trip to Colombia I met one CO in Bogota who had already been rounded up four times!'

    Oliver Robertson

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