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Putting all conscripts on the same start line

On 12 December 2014, Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin informed the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Command of her evaluation of problems related to implementing the equal treatment of conscripts in the arrangements for the military service of professional athletes.

The Ministry of Defence reported to the Deputy-Ombudsman on 19 May 2015 that the Defence Command had changed the instructions concerning the operation of the Sports School.

According to the new instructions, admissions to the Sports School will be made during the basic training period, and all conscripts will have equal possibilities of being admitted to leadership training or various duties of the rank and file.

The numbers admitted will depend on the needs of the Defence Forces to train its troops. The length of a conscript's service is determined by the type of military training that he or she receives. Decisions on the length of the service are made during the basic training period on the basis of selections to different types of training. All conscripts will start their military service on the prescribed dates for each contingency, and no exceptional starting dates will be allowed.

The Deputy-Ombudsman finds that the modified instructions issued by the Defence Command will promote equal treatment of conscripts.

In its statements on the Conscription Act (PeVL 37/1997 vp and 9/2007 vp), the parliamentary Constitutional Law Committee stated that different periods of service can be justified by the training and operational needs of the Defence Forces in a manner that is acceptable in terms of the fundamental rights system.

The Deputy-Ombudsman stresses that the new Non-discrimination Act that entered into force at the beginning of the year also applies to the Defence Forces. Under this Act, different treatment is not discriminatory if it is based on law, its objectives are otherwise acceptable, and the means for achieving the objectives are proportionate.

It is obvious that some duties in the Defence Forces do not require lengthy periods of service. The selection of persons for these duties must also be based on the Defence Forces' needs. Different lengths of service may thus not be exclusively justified by the conscripts' personal needs.

Further information is available from: Legal Adviser Kristian Holman, +358 (0)9 432 3368