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Georgia to remove mandatory military service from constitution

5 June 2017
Young recruits taking their oath. Archive (Mari Nikuradze/OC Media)

Georgia’s ruling party wants to remove mention of mandatory military service from the country’s constitution, according to Speaker of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze, who spoke briefly about the initiative during a briefing on planned constitutional amendments on 5 June.

This does not mean the government will necessarily abolish conscription, he explained.

‘The constitution won’t regulate this issue anymore’, Kobakhidze said. ‘It will be a subject for parliament and the government to decide whether it will exist or not, and what the system will look like’, he continued.

According to the current constitution, all men capable of serving are obliged to serve in the military in ‘defence of the country’.  

The current legislation, which drafts all men aged 18–27 for two years service, allows for some exemptions, including for students at higher education institutions and theological schools, and priests.

Many young men are concerned about the draft, and attempt to avoid it however they can.

[Read More: Young Georgian draftees question compulsory ‘guard duty’]

The opposition Girchi party recently established a ‘religious organisation’, to help draftees avoid conscription by certifying them as priests.

Irakli Sesiashvili, Chairman of the Parliamentary Defence and Security Committee, has introduced a new draft law proposing three years imprisonment for avoiding conscription. Girchi claims that the initiative was made in response to their ‘religion’.

On 23 May 2017, the parliamentary committees for Defence and Human Rights supported the draft law at a joint sitting.

Georgia’s government is implementing sweeping changes to the country’s constitution. According to their proposals, amendments would change the way the president is elected and deprive him of certain powers, define marriage as a ‘union between a man and a woman’, abolish single-member voting constituencies, and ‘guarantee the social rights of its citizens’.

[Read More: Georgia’s constitutional changes explained]

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