These notes on procedure, addressed to conscientious objectors in the British Armed Forces, have been compiled by At Ease.
Bunhill Fields Meeting House
Banner Street, London
Phone 020 7490 5223 (Sundays 5-7pm)
You are welcome to contact AT EASE at any stage, and are advised to do so as early as possible, as most people experience delays and not all senior military staff have been advised of the correct response to, and the legal entitlements of, conscientious objectors.
AT EASE is completely confidential. You need not tell us your name. No attempt will be made to influence your decision.
AT EASE has no connection with the MOD. Except for minor details, the procedure is essentially the same for all three services, all ranks and both genders.
|The first step in a declaration of conscientious objection is a written statement submitted to your Commanding Officer. This should be a truthful statement of your own beliefs, in your own words and be signed and dated. You should keep a copy.
|You will be asked to submit written evidence. This usually consists of two written references from professional persons, such as a minister of religion or a solicitor. Your referees do not have to agree with your beliefs, but they should comment on your sincerity from their knowledge of you. Written evidence can take other forms such as written statements by other people who know you well, or a statement by yourself in the form of an affidavit sworn before a Justice of the Peace. Keep copies of this evidence with the date of submission.
|You should request to be assigned non-combatant duties whilst your declaration on conscientious objection is being considered.
|Your Commanding Officer, assisted by the Chaplain, will investigate your sincerity, usually by interviewing you.
|Your Commanding Officerís report, together with the report of the Chaplain, your own statement and the other written evidence, will be forwarded to your Divisional Commander. Your Commanding Officer will make a recommendation as to whether or not he considers that you should be discharged on grounds of conscience.
|You should be interviewed again, and informed of the Divisional Commanderís decision. If your application has been turned down, you have the right to appeal to THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION (ACCO).
|The ACCO hearings are usually held in London. If posted overseas, you should be returned to the U.K. as soon as the date for your hearing is known.
|The ACCO is an independent committee of civilians appointed by the Lord Chancellor, chaired by a lawyer. At the appeal hearing before the ACCO you will be asked questions about your beliefs and your Commanding Officer will be asked to give a report.
|You may, if you wish, call witnesses, who may make a claim for travelling expenses but not loss of earnings.
|You may, if you wish, have a legal representative, but legal aid is not available for this expense.
|If you request to wear civilian clothes at this hearing, you should be allowed to do so.
|You will not be told of the decision of the ACCO on the day of the hearing, because their advice has to be formally accepted by the Secretary of Stateís representative.
|People are advised to contact At Ease at an early stage, because your right to Conscientious Objection may encounter difficulty in getting recognised.