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          • Year: 2009
          • About the Draft of the Law on Civil Service

          • 03. april 2009. Marko Savković, Research Fellow of the Centre for Civil – Military Relations

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          It is considered that the conscientious objection is one of the basic human rights, directly deriving from the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In the Republic of Serbia, the right of the conscientious objection was introduced by the Regulation on amendments and supplements of the Regulation on military service. Implementation of it started in December 2003. The basis for the conscientious objection is in the Articles 18 and 45 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia.

           

          The relation between the military conscripts assigned to the regular military service with weapons and those who make a conscientious objection thus being assigned to the civil service was gradually equalized. In present moment that is 52% towards the 48% in favor of those who choose the civil service. From 2003, around 70, 000 applications for serving of the military obligation in the civil service were submitted. Of that number 4,700 applications were withdrawn, and around 3,900 were rejected.

           

          We can assume that the conscripts choose this way of service predominantly because they believe that they can satisfy certain personal interest, and less because of true persuasion. However, that is not a reason to challenge this right, but to consider some problems again.

           

          It was proved in practice that the fundamental problems of serving military obligation in the civil service are the following: at the first place that is the misuse of the right to the conscientious objection, than the inequality in rights, duties and obligations between the conscripts in civil service and the ones in the Army of Serbia (with or without arms), but also the lack of training for the conscripts in the civil service for the actions of importance for the defense.

           

          The Regulation from 2003 is still not harmonized with the Law on the Army. This means that the following issues are still not harmonized: deadline intervals for the service applications submitting, deadlines for the application procedure, and the difference in remedies. Hence the possible objection on the decision about the period and place of conscript’s civil service postpones this decision, what is not possible for the regular military service.

           

          In the meantime, the rulebooks about the functioning of special commissions were not adopted. These rulebooks should have a certain role in the decision making process for sending of conscripts to the civil service. Then, it is not precisely defined who is responsible for the oversight of the realization of conscripts’ civil service. Institutions and organizations where the conscripts are being sent are not informed about their rights and obligations (both rights and duties of conscripts and directors - persons in charge in above mentioned institutions and organizations).

           

          What solutions to these problems were foreseen by this Draft?

           

          Article 5 which defines the realization of the right of the conscientious objection is not changed but improved and more precise.

           

          For the rulebooks we still have to wait: the Article 13 says that the “organization, manner and procedure of decision making and the procedure of the election of the president and the deputy president of the Commission etc.” is prescribed by the Minister of Defense.

           

          The Article 15 tries to prevent the possibility of the so called “friendly intervention”. In other words, the conscript cannot get the civil service in the institution where he is already being employed, in institution where the conscript’s related person is employed or at the faculty the conscript attends.

           

          The objection on the decision about the place and period of the civil service is not any more postponing the execution of the decision - the aim of this solution is to reduce the oscillations in numbers of the staff, in other words to reduce the pressure on the system of defense as a whole. It is possible to discuss the democratic sides of this solution, since it is more rigorous, but it is obvious that the needs of the system prevailed in this case.

           

          Avoiding of appearance in the assigned civil service would be interpreted as receding from the right of the conscientious objection.

           

          One humanistic characteristic is introduced by the Paragraph 5 of the Article 21. This Article defines that the young people in the status of probationary employee or employed for the certain period of time, can postpone the service up to one year, while waiting for the full time employment, what is in accordance with the Law on work.

           

          The Paragraph 7 of the same Article is a bit confusing. On the first glance, it seems also innovated, but it prescribes that the person who came back from abroad in order to serve the military obligation in the civil service, has three months to secure the wellbeing of his family. Are three months enough?

           

          The Article 28, devoted to the right of objection on the decision to end the civil service is confusing. In one sentence it is said that the objection does not postpone the execution of the decision, and in the very next says that during the procedure of objection’s considering, the person in question continues to go to the civil service. In practical terms, that probably means that that is the same period of eight days assigned to the second- level commission to respond, but it is still not clear enough.

           

          The Article 29 foresees that the conscript can be removed from one institution to the other in one of the following cases: if the service in the first endangers his health (what is decided by the responsible health institution); if he changed the place of residence; if the contract between the Ministry of Defense and the organization or institution is cancelled etc.

           

          If the person considers that he is being treated in bad and dishonest manner in the institution where he serves, according to the Article 33, it is possible for him to appeal to the First level commission which informs (it is not defined in written or oral manner) the responsible person in that institution.

           

          The First level commission must decide in the period of 15 days. The right of appeal to this decision is possible, but the decision of the Second level commission is final in the administrative procedure.

           

          The system of control of the civil service is defined in the Article 42. It is foreseen that the issue of control is divided between the responsible person in the place of service, the Center of Civil Service and the Commission for Civil Service. However, the obligation of report remains the same. Hence the responsible person writes every month a report where is possible to notify if behavior of the conscript is not in accordance with his duties. It still remains to define the division of responsibilities of control.

           

          The authors of the Law tried to answer on all those open questions which appeared in time during practice of civil service in Serbia. However, the successful implementation of it will be under question while the control role is not precisely divided and with remaining important bylaws still in procedure.

          Translated by Igor Novakovic, CCMR Intern

        • Tags: military, civil service, Law, conscientious objector
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