Same Rules for All: Finland Mulls Repealing Jehovah’s Witnesses Draft Exemption

Finland’s Jehovah’s Witnesses may find themselves joining the military for the first time in decades, as the Ministry of Defense now contemplates a more “equal” draft system disallowing their exemption as discriminatory.

Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö of the Blue Reform party has received a proposal to repeal a long-standing draft exemption for Jehovah’s Witnesses*, the daily newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet argued.

According to working group chairman Teemu Penttilä, there are five reasons behind the proposal.

“The main reason is that the exemption violates the constitution and, according to which everyone must be treated equally. The circumstances have also changed since 1985 when the exemption came into force and the constitution is interpreted much more strictly today,” Penttilä explained.

Second, Finland’s security situation has changed, as have the responsibilities of the Finnish Defense Forces, which offers broader opportunities for Jehovah’s Witnesses, who refuse to bear arms.

“Previously, the military duty was primarily about armed defense, but today there are many tasks in the defense that do not involve weapons,” Penttilä argued, citing cyber defense and firefighting as some of the defense-graded tasks that do not involve weapons.

Proposal for Temporary Stop for Women in Army Sets Finland Afire

Third, the civil service has been developed markedly since 1985, the working group found.

“The civil service has developed a lot and…

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