Action Alert: Constitutional Court Rules in Favor of Jhonatan

Action Alert

September 16, 2014

 

Constitutional Court Rules in Favor of Jhonatan

 

 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17

New International Version

 

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

 

On September 16, the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled on the case of Jhonatan David Vargas, recognizing Jhonatan as a conscientious objector and declaring that his fundamental rights to freedom of conscious, freedom of worship and freedom of religion have been violated. [1] The ruling orders the Colombian army to unenlist Jhonatan and give him his military passbook (liberta militar), therefore releasing him from the obligation of military service, within 48 hours.

We request your continued solidarity and actions on Jhonatan´s behalf, so that the court order is complied with as quickly as possible and Jhonatan, who continues to be held, is liberated (see requests below).

Jhonatan was recruited by the National Army against his will on March 16, 2013, and was transferred to the 28th Battalion ASCP Bochica in Puerto Carreño, Vichada. Jhonatan has always expressed that that his religious convictions do not allow him to engage in violence or belong to armed groups, and he has, therefore, refused to perform obligatory military service. [2]   

On June 14, 2013, Jhonatan, along with other young men in the battalion, received a few days of home leave to visit their families. Jhonatan decided that not returning to the battalion was the only option that allowed him his right to conscientious objection.  

On August 29, 2014, military authorities informed Jhonatan that he was considered to be AWOL and that they had begun military criminal proceeding against him. On September 4, 2014 at about 8:30pm, when leaving the University of Santander where he studies engineering, Jhonatan and other youth were stopped at a checkpoint. When the police examined their identity documents, they found an outstanding arrest warrant for Jhonatan. He was detained and brought to the police station of Las Granjas in Barrancabermeja. The following day, he was transferred to the Batallion Nueva Granada and was informed that he will have to appear before the military judge handling his case.  

On December 3, 2013, the Ombudsmen’s Office asked the Constitutional Court to revise Jhonatan’s case, claiming that his right to freedom of conscience was being infringed upon. Currently, with the Constitutional Ruling, the National Army must liberate Jhonatan and give him his libreta military (military passbook), thus releasing him from the obligation of military service, in less than 48 hours.

Asks:

1.  Share this information with your organizations, congregations and communities, as well pray for Jhonatan. In social media, use  #freejhonatan and/or #liberenajhonatan. 

2. Write an email to the Director of Recruitment and Reserves Control of the National Army, asking that they comply with the sentence of the Constituional Court, asking that he release Jhonatan and define his military situation by granting him CO status,  and therefore respecting his right to conscientious objection. An example email in Spanish and English is located below

3. Copy the email to: the Head of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Rights of the National Army, Battalion Nueva Granada, Military Criminal Prosecutor 22, District Military No. 14 in Barrancabermeja, Military Criminal Court 63, the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, the Prosecutor General’s Office, your country’s Embassy in Colombia (find it here: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-in/colombia), and Justapaz.   

Thank you for your support and solidarity.

Fraternally,

 

JUSTAPAZ, Organization of the Mennonite Church of Colombia

Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council of Colombia

 

Sample Email

 

 

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Coronel Mauricio Martínez Ricardo

Director de Reclutamiento y Control de Reservas

Bogotá

 

Warm greetings.

We write you to express our worries for Jhonatan David Vargas Becerra, a student and youth leader of the Central Foursquare Church of Barrancabermeja, Santander, who was detained the evening of Sept 4, 2014.

Jhonatan was recruited by the National Army against his will on March 16, 2013, and was transferred to the 28th Battalion ASCP Bochica in Puerto Carreño, Vichada. Jhonatan has always expressed that that his religious convictions do not allow him to engage in violence or belong to armed groups, and therefore he has refused to perform obligatory military service.

The Colombian Constitutional Court ruled in Sentence T-314/2014 on August 29 that Jhonatan is a conscientious objector and that his fundamental rights to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion are being violated. The sentence further orders the Colombian Army to free Jhonatan and give him his “libreta military” in less than 48 hours.

For these reasons we state our support for Jonathan David Vargas Becerra and his family and kindly ask you to:

 

1. Comply with the Constitutional Court’s ruling and immediately free Jhonatan.

2. Recognize Jhonatan’s right to conscientious objection and give him his “libreta

militar”.                                                                                         

 

Sincerely,

 

Correo Modelo

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Coronel Mauricio Martínez Ricardo

Director de Reclutamiento y Control de Reservas

Bogotá

Cordial saludo.

Les dirigimos esta carta para manifestar nuestra preocupación por el joven Jhonatan David Vargas Becerra, líder juvenil de la Iglesia Cristiana Cuadrangular Central de Barrancabermeja, Santander quien fue detenido la noche del 4 de septiembre de 2014.

Jhonatan fue reclutado por el Ejército Nacional en contra de su voluntad el 16 de marzo de 2013 y trasladado al Batallón 28 ASCP Bochica en Puerto Carreño, Vichada. Jhonatan siempre ha manifestado que sus convicciones religiosas le impiden ejercer la violencia, pertenecer a grupos armados y por lo tanto se negó a prestar el servicio militar obligatorio  y nunca juró bandera. 

El 16 de septiembre de 2014, en la Sentencia T-314/2014, del 29 de mayo, la Corte Constitucional de Colombia reconoció a Jhonatan como objetor de conciencia y la violación de sus derechos fundamentales a la libertad de conciencia, a la libertad de cultos y de religión, y ordena la desincorporación de Jhonatan y la expedición de su libreta militar en 48 horas.

Por estas razones queremos manifestar nuestro apoyo a Jonathan David Vargas Becerra y a su familia y les pedimos muy comedidamente que:

1.Acaten el fallo de la Corte Constitucional en el favor de Jhonatan y que dejen en libertad a Jhonatan.

2.Que define su situación militar garantizando su derecho fundamental a la objeción de concienciase le expida su libreta militar.       

Cordialmente,



[1] Sentencia T-314/2014, August 29, Colombian Constitutional Court.

[2] In Colombia military service is mandatory for all men who have turned eighteen. Yet the Colombian Constitutional Court established in Sentence C-728 of 2009 that conscientious objection to mandatory military service is a fundamental right, in accordance with international norms and treaties on conscientious objection. In spite of this the Colombian Military does not respect this and does not guarantee this right.

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