05.04.2022
by Con­nec­tion e.V. und PRO ASYL

In a joint appeal to the Ger­man par­lia­ment, a broad civil socie­ty alli­an­ce calls on the Bun­des­tag and the Ger­man government to grant pro­tec­tion and asyl­um to Rus­si­an and Bela­ru­si­an as well as Ukrai­ni­an con­sci­en­tious objec­tors and deserters. Ger­ma­ny and all other EU coun­tries must take in the­se peop­le fle­eing the war effort without red tape and allow them a per­ma­nent right to stay – and also ensu­re that the human right to con­sci­en­tious objec­tion is recognised.

»Our goal is to ensu­re that con­sci­en­tious objec­tors and deserters from the Ukrai­ne war are gran­ted uncom­pli­ca­ted pro­tec­tion and asyl­um,« reads the let­ter to the mem­bers of the Bun­des­tag, which is sup­por­ted by Con­nec­tion e.V., the human rights orga­ni­sa­ti­on PRO ASYL and around 40 other peace, human rights and refu­gee orga­ni­sa­ti­ons from all over Ger­ma­ny. The alli­an­ce is urging the mem­bers of the Bun­des­tag to pass a cor­re­spon­ding moti­on – if pos­si­ble as inter­group – to man­da­te the government to pro­vi­de this pro­tec­tion for deserters and con­sci­en­tious objec­tors. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, this pro­tec­tion has not been gua­ran­te­ed so far.

Deserters from the Rus­si­an Fede­ra­ti­on and Belarus

As things stand, deserters and con­sci­en­tious objec­tors from the Rus­si­an Fede­ra­ti­on and Bela­rus have to go through asyl­um pro­ce­du­res – with an uncer­tain out­co­me. This is becau­se, accord­ing to the prac­ti­ce of the The Federal Office for Migra­ti­on and Refu­gees (BAMF) and the courts, per­se­cu­ti­on for con­sci­en­tious objec­tion and deser­ti­on does not auto­ma­ti­cal­ly qua­li­fy as grounds for asyl­um in Germany.

The Rus­si­an Federation’s attack on Ukrai­ne is a war against inter­na­tio­nal law, sup­por­ted by Bela­rus. And that is why Arti­cle 9 of the Euro­pean Union’s Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on Direc­ti­ve app­lies to Rus­si­an and Bela­ru­si­an sol­di­ers who have eva­ded mili­ta­ry ser­vice and thus the pos­si­ble use of war in Ukrai­ne, or who have deser­ted: pro­tec­tion under refu­gee law is gran­ted to tho­se peop­le who eva­de acts or wars con­tra­ry to inter­na­tio­nal law and the­re­fo­re have to fear punish­ment (Arti­cle 9 para. 2e).

But expe­ri­ence is dif­fe­rent: Pre­vious asyl­um pro­ce­du­res based on Arti­cle 9,2 of the Direc­ti­ve have shown that Ger­man aut­ho­ri­ties and courts set very high stan­dards of pro­of, which many of tho­se con­cer­ned are unab­le to meet. They are then threa­tened with rejec­tion and extra­di­ti­on to the warlords.

For examp­le, Ger­man aut­ho­ri­ties and courts demand from the men con­cer­ned deploy­ment orders pro­ving pen­ding acts con­tra­ry to inter­na­tio­nal law – but in prac­ti­ce this is almost impos­si­ble. And the right to refu­se mili­ta­ry ser­vice is also restric­ted in both coun­tries.

Ban on lea­ving Ukrai­ne con­tra­dicts human rights convention

In Ukrai­ne, too, only a small num­ber of con­sci­en­tious objec­tors are reco­gnis­ed – they inclu­de mem­bers of small reli­gious com­mu­nities such as Jehovah’s Wit­nes­ses. Tho­se who do not belong to such a reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty are denied reco­gni­ti­on. Reser­vists and sol­di­ers also have no pos­si­bi­li­ty to app­ly. Moreo­ver, the cur­rent ban on men bet­ween the ages of 18 and 60 lea­ving the coun­try con­tra­dicts the Pro­to­col No. 4 to the Con­ven­ti­on for the Pro­tec­tion of Human Rights and Fun­da­men­tal Free­doms, which sta­tes  »Ever­yo­ne shall be free to lea­ve any coun­try, inclu­ding his own.«

Con­sci­en­tious objec­tion is a human right, as the Euro­pean Court of Human Rights sta­ted in 2011. This human right to con­sci­en­tious objec­tion must be enfor­ced in all coun­tries, inclu­ding tho­se at war. Tho­se who refu­se to ser­ve with wea­pons for rea­sons of con­sci­ence and are per­se­cu­t­ed for it must be protected.

It is true that peop­le from Ukrai­ne enjoy safe resi­dence for an initi­al peri­od of one year through the EU Coun­cil Decisi­on on Tem­pora­ry Pro­tec­tion. »With regard to con­sci­en­tious objec­tors, howe­ver, it should be bor­ne in mind that when this regu­la­ti­on expi­res, the ques­ti­on of whe­ther and how con­sci­en­tious objec­tors are per­se­cu­t­ed in Ukrai­ne will be rele­vant,« the orga­ni­sa­ti­ons’ joint appeal states.

Becau­se here, too, expe­ri­ence shows: In the past years, several hund­red con­sci­en­tious objec­tors from all parts of Ukrai­ne had alrea­dy come to Ger­ma­ny to find pro­tec­tion here. Howe­ver, most of them were rejec­ted in the asyl­um procedures.

The appeal to the Ger­man Bun­des­tag can be found here.

Infor­ma­ti­on on the legal situa­ti­on for con­sci­en­tious objec­tion and deser­ti­on in Bela­rus, the Rus­si­an Fede­ra­ti­on and Ukrai­ne can be found here.

Infor­ma­ti­on on pro­tec­tion and asyl­um for con­sci­en­tious objec­tors and deserters can be found here.

Con­ta­ct persons:

Rudi Fried­rich, Con­nec­tion e.V., office@Connection-eV.org, +49 – 069 – 82 37 55 34
Gün­ter Burk­hardt, PRO ASYL, presse@proasyl.de, +49 – 069 – 24 23 14 30

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