The civilian service should be of the same duration as the minimum period of military service - 165 days
The total length of civilian service determines the length of time a conscientious person is absent from his or her normal life and is thus the only objective measure of the strain between civilian and military service. The "total strain" and the actual content of the service vary within the service forms to such an extent that other "strain comparisons" between the different service modes are impossible and purposeful. The continuation of conscript service beyond six months' basic service period is in most cases based on the motivation and will of the conscript in question, so the basic service period is the only reasonable starting point for comparing periods of service. According to the position adopted by the European Parliament in 1994, civilian service should not be any longer than military service (so-called de Gucht resolution).
In July 2013, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights stated that the duration of civilian service was punitive in nature and called on Finland to reduce it. Amnesty International has also stated that it also considers the current term of service (347 days) as punitive and continues to regard Finnish total refusals as prisoners of conscience.
Reform the disciplinary and penal system
The imprisonment of total objectors is contrary to human rights and disproportionate given the overall level of punishment. They must be abandoned.
The civilian disciplinary system is staggering: after a disciplinary penalty such as loss of daily allowance and overtime, the next step is absolute imprisonment. At its worst, this has resulted in people who have neglected their civilian service obligations, for example due to problems in their civilian life, being sentenced to several months in prison. In practice, the situation has improved and such cases have ceased to exist, but the possibility of absolute custodial sentences in such cases must also be completely waived.
Increase state compensation for accommodation costs and prevent violations of the statutory rights of civilian servants
Under the Civilian Service Act, civilian servants are entitled to free accommodation, meals and medical care during their service. Arranging these is a matter for the service places. In particular, in order to put an end to the neglect of accommodation, the State now reimburses part of the cost of accommodation. Although the share of accommodotation costs has been increased in 2019, it is still not realistic compared to the overall cost of housing.
The financial position of civilian servants must be improved
The financial benefits of the civilian servants are tied to those in the military service, so their level is inadequate and the necessary upgrades have not been made.
Retired civilian servants must be payed a repatriation allowance to secure the transition to civilian life after service. The right to food allowance must be extended to include holidays and holidays when the civilian servant is not staying in the accommodation indicated by the place of service. The daily subsistence allowance must be increased, in particular during the first six months of service. Of course, similar reforms should also be implemented for the military.
Possibility to perform civilian service abroad (for example in development cooperation tasks) or to replace civilian service with a corresponding international service
Under the current Civilian Service Act, a two-month period is possible to conduct civilian service abroad. It must be possible to perform full civilian service abroad or to replace civilian service by a corresponding foreign service, for example in the areas of development cooperation, cultural exchange or the service of non-governmental organizations.
The obligation of military authorities to provide information about the possibility of applying for civilian service before, during and after military service should be clarified.
The Civilian Service Act requires, among other things, the army to provide "sufficient information to the conscripts on access to civilian service and the content of civilian service". In practice, this does not happen. In call-ups, civilian service is often only mentioned, not always even that. Worst of all, those seeking civilian service have been subjected to degrading treatment at call-ups. Also, the information provided to conscripts prior to the call-ups contains little or no information on civilian service.
Knowledge of human rights in civilian service decision-making
Civilian service is essentially about the implementation of the right to conscientious objection, to which Finland has committed itself through the international human rights treaties it has signed. Nevertheless, for example, the Civilian service Advisory Committee in the development and planning of civilian service, which is assisted by the Minister for Employment and the Economy, has three military national defense authorities, but in practice, the Union Of Conscientious Objectors is the only member, who has human right knowledge. Possible new invitees to the Advisory committee could be, for example, human rights or peace organizations or government human rights experts.
Legislation on crisis service should be removed from the Civilian service Act
The Civilian Service Act provides for crisis service. However, no reasonable grounds have been put forward for them. Legislation should be removed from the law and any crisis situation for civilians should be regulated, as with other civilians, through the Emergency Law. Integrating civilian service as part of the preparation for state military crises can also jeopardize civilian service as a form of service to the conscientious objectors.
Abandonment of beliefs examination in all situations
Although the beliefs of civilians applying for civilian service have not been investigated since 1987, the civilian service law is still subject to possibility of beliefs examination under exceptional circumstances. Assessing individuals' beliefs is a serious restriction on fundamental rights and virtually impossible. Therefore, the beliefs investigation procedure should not be option at any circumstances.
What we have already achieved:
- Civilian service is not longer than the longest conscript service. Of course, the duration of civilian service is still unreasonable, and work to shorten it is continuing based on the conclusions of the UN Commission on Human Rights of July 2013. However, to a large extent, as a result of AKL's work, the civilian servant is no longer longer than longest military' service.
- The right to conscientious objection is recognized during the war. Prior to 2008, civilian conscripts had been freed from military duties only during peacetime and their treatment during the war was up to the military. Under current law, anyone approved for civilian service in peacetime cannot be assigned to military service under any circumstances. Although it is highly unlikely that Finland will embark on a war calling for reservist, the recognition of the right to conscientious objection in all circumstances was a significant step forward in principle and a result of AKL's longstanding demands.
- The State contributes to the cost of housing the civilian servants. The system of reimbursement of civilian service accommodation costs led to a catastrophic situation in the 1990s and early 2000s, with many civilian servants having difficulty obtaining their service-related living expenses from anywhere. The situation has improved - albeit not completely remedied - largely as a result of the state's commencement of the current Civilian Service Act to pay part of the cost of living for civilians., which AKL had long insisted on.
- There is a very wide range of civilian service positions and jobs they offer. According to the AKL, civilian service works best for individuals and society when there are many different places of service available. In this case, at least a significant number of civilian servants have the opportunity to spend their service doing what they can and want to do. The current civilian service is not good - a system of forced labor is never good - but still better than any other option as long as conscription and civilian service are still maintained.