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Amnesty International expresses dismay in the case of conscientious objector Kimberly Rivera

    September 19, 2012

    Amnesty International is dismayed that today the Federal Court of Canada denied the motion to stop the removal of Kimberly Rivera, pending the outcome of her Humanitarian and Compassionate application to remain in Canada. Kimberly has been ordered leave Canada for the United States on Thursday 20 September. It is expected that Ms. Rivera will be detained upon arrival in the USA, transferred to military control, court-martialed and imprisoned for refusing to serve in the U.S. military on grounds of conscience.

     Amnesty International considers Kimberly Rivera to be a conscientious objector, and as such would consider her to be a prisoner of conscience should she be detained for military evasion, upon arrival in the United States.

    Amnesty International considers a conscientious objector to be any person who, for reasons of conscience or profound conviction, refuses either to perform any form of service in the armed forces or applies for non-combatant status. This can include refusal to participate in a war because one disagrees with its aims or the manner in which it was being waged, even if one does not oppose taking part in all wars. The law of the United States only recognizes the right to conscientious objection where a person forms an opposition to war in any form. 

    Wherever such a person is detained or imprisoned solely for their beliefs as a conscientious objector, Amnesty International considers that person to be a prisoner of conscience, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.

    Amnesty International believes that the right to refuse to perform military service for reasons of conscience is inherent in the notion of freedom of thought, conscience and religion as recognized in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).  Kimberly Rivera formed an understanding of her position as a conscientious objector over a period of time while she was deployed in Iraq. At one point her convictions caused her to stop carrying her rifle while on duty in Iraq.

    Amnesty International has followed the cases of multiple U.S. soldiers who have objected to military service on grounds of conscience since the U.S. led conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq began. Amnesty International has observed multiple U.S. soldiers who maintain principled objections to military service imprisoned solely on the basis of their beliefs.  Some soldiers have been imprisoned despite pending applications for conscientious objector status, some have been imprisoned after their applications for conscientious objector status have been wrongly refused, other soldiers have been deployed to combat zones despite pending applications for conscientious objector status.

    Beth Berton-Hunter,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    416-363-9933, ext. 332