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Some European countries including mine have laws allowing to draft men (and women of some professions) into the military when the current situation warrants it. Although the current situation in Ukraine probably won't evolve into an all-out NATO-Russia war that would warrant it, there is a risk.

If such war started and I (not wanting to die in a war) fled to another European Union country could I reasonably hope that I would receive refugee status or at least not get sent back to my home country?

Would crossing the border against the law after I was banned from leaving the country due to the conscription change this?

I know that answer to this question may depend on the specific country, but information on any country in European Union would be valuable to me.

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    Short answer: almost certainly you won't find such a (EU) country. Especially since they'd like Ukraine to have the means to fight (material and manpower). What the law says and what happens in practice can differ a bit, see e.g. Vietnam draft dodgers fleeing to Canada, but that case was pretty different. Mar 9, 2022 at 15:15
  • 1
    Maybe flee to Serbia? Or find some EU country that has really long proceedings for deportation, and hope the war ends before that. Mar 9, 2022 at 15:27
  • Have you considered to become a resident of another EU country before you ever receive a draft notice? Being a resident non-citizen makes it unlikely that you are drafted in the host country, and your home country would only know that you're not a resident any more. But I think you're over-reacting.
    – o.m.
    Mar 9, 2022 at 19:04
  • If that european country is Ukraine, the real problem is to get out of the country. I know myself a lot of more or les young men in Ukraine who would like to leave the country, but the ukrainian autorities not leting them out.
    – convert
    Mar 10, 2022 at 11:01
  • @Fizz I deeply appreciate going out of your way to not only answer, but give potential solution ideas!
    – K502
    Mar 10, 2022 at 17:49

1 Answer 1

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It depends on national law, but as far as European Union law goes, the relevant regulation is article 9 of Directive 2011/95/EU:

Article 9: Acts of persecution

  1. In order to be regarded as an act of persecution within the meaning of Article 1(A) of the Geneva Convention, an act must:

    (a) be sufficiently serious by its nature or repetition as to constitute a severe violation of basic human rights, in particular the rights from which derogation cannot be made under Article 15(2) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; or

    (b) be an accumulation of various measures, including violations of human rights which is sufficiently severe as to affect an individual in a similar manner as mentioned in point (a).

  2. Acts of persecution as qualified in paragraph 1 can, inter alia, take the form of:
    [...]
    (e) prosecution or punishment for refusal to perform military service in a conflict, where performing military service would include crimes or acts falling within the scope of the grounds for exclusion as set out in Article 12(2);

The article 12(2) mentioned refers to war crimes and crimes against humanity or serious non-political crimes.

Furthermore, the European Court of Justice ruled in 2020 that this article must be interpreted as protecting individuals who refuse military service by fleeing their country, even where no formal refusal process exists, and that an applicant may rely on reasonable belief as to whether their future military service would include such crimes or acts mentioned in article 12(2).

However, the Court also ruled that just because prosecution and punishment are connected to the refusal of military service, this is not enough to qualify an applicant who refuses military service for refugee status - they also needs to be a connection between the reasons for persecution mentioned in article 10 (race, religion, nationality, political opinion, etc) and the prosecution and punishment.

So in general, no, the refusal of military service is not sufficient to qualify someone for refugee status - they also need to have a reasonable belief that their military service would include specific acts illegal under international law, and be able to link any prosecution & punishment for said refusal to a specific reason set out in article 10 of the directive.

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  • And what if the person triing to escape from military service in a country having armed conflict or even war?
    – convert
    Mar 9, 2022 at 21:51
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    @convert I'm pretty sure the bold section clarifies that you only qualify if you believe you will be committing war crimes (named in Article 12).
    – uberhaxed
    Mar 10, 2022 at 7:01
  • There are certain groups who refuse military service due to religious conviction, e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses and Religious Society of Friends. I wonder if persecution for refusing to serve could be counted as religious persecution against those specific groups.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 10, 2022 at 16:31
  • @StuartF Similar case could be made for people with strong ethical beliefs about pacifism. Some countries work around this issues putting such people in help units - e.g. having them do transport or technical stuff for the army instead of direct fighting, so I fear that if the answer about active military is negative and so it seems, I would expect the same for such people. :(
    – K502
    Mar 10, 2022 at 17:56

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