Below is a report by EUROMIL about the first meeting (14-15 June 2007) of a Council of Europe working group which is drawing up recommendations on the human rights of armed forces personnel.
Reasoning for full implementation of fundamental rights for soldiers
Practice in Europe has shown that granting soldiers full citizen rights like the right of association has in no way decreased military discipline or combat effectiveness. Nevertheless many European countries still restrict fundamental rights of members of their armed forces.
Six representatives of EUROMIL and the British Armed Forces Federation participated at the first meeting of the Council of Europe's Working Group on Human Rights of Members of the Armed Forces in Strasbourg 14-15 June 2007.
The task of the working group is to draft a Ministerial recommendation. The working group bases its work on the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly's recommendation on the same issue, i.e. Human Rights of Members of the Armed Forces, from last year (recommendation 1742/2006).
The following states are members of the working group: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Turkey and the United Kingdom. EUROMIL was invited to participate as observer in the working group. Observers had the possibility to fully participate in the debate. Following delegates represented EUROMIL at the meeting: Bessy (ADEFDROMIL/France), Dolpp (DBwV/Germany), Harjulehto (Secretary General of EUROMIL), Sorensen (HKKF/Denmark) and Trzeszczkowski (KONWENT/Poland). Douglas Young represented the British Armed Forces Federation in very good co-operation with EUROMIL.
The interventions by the EUROMIL-delegates clearly reflected their long experience with military affairs. The opposition of some member states' representatives to the demands for full application of fundamental rights to military personnel was to be expected. Positions of EUROMIL were typically supported by member states representatives, when their home countries already applied these rights for members of their armed forces.
EUROMIL will participate in the future meetings of the working group as well and continue to reason for a full implementation of fundamental rights for members of the armed forces.
First published on EUROMIL HEADLINES - 19/6/2007