eurel

Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà

Tweeter Rss

Accueil > Slovaquie > Statut juridique des religions > Dispositions spécifiques > Autres dispositions > Projet d’accords sur le droit à l’objection de conscience

Projet d’accords sur le droit à l’objection de conscience

In the period following the Meciar Administration, nothing has probably shaken the Slovak political scene more than the upcoming agreements on the right to exercise conscientious objection. These should be concluded between the Slovak Republic and the Holy See, as well as between the Slovak Republic and the registered churches and religious societies which manifested their interest in contracting a similar agreement.
The Ministry of Justice of the SR – in co-operation with the Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia and 11 registered churches or religious societies – elaborated both the Treaty between the Slovak Republic and the Holy See on the Right to Exercise Conscientious Objections and the Agreement between the Slovak Republic and Registered Churches and Religious Societies on the Right to Exercise Conscientious Objection.
Their aim is to guarantee the right to exercise freely conscientious objection, in the line of protecting the highest human values. On the basis of these agreements, everyone would be able to refuse an action he or she finds illegal according to their rules of faith and manners, that is the doctrine of the Catholic Church for the Treaty with the Holy See, and the doctrines of the individual churches for the Agreement with the eleven registered churches. In case of confrontation, the interpretation of the rule of faith and manners of the Catholic Church would be provided by the Holy See through the entrusted authority, and through their respective authorities for non-Catholic churches and religious societies.
The Slovak Republic would become the world’s first country to approve such agreements. According to the draft agreements, the right to exercise conscientious objection would relate to : activities in the armed forces and armed corps including the military service ; medical services, especially services related to the artificial termination of pregnancy, artificial or assisted fertilization, experimenting and handling with human organs, human embryos and human sex cells, euthanasia, cloning, sterilization and contraception ; educational services ; labor relations and other legal relations.

At the end of 2005, a group of independent experts at the European Commission elaborated an analysis of the Draft Treaty between the Slovak Republic and the Holy See on the Right to Exercise Conscientious Objection. The report states that even though the article 24 of the Constitution of the Slovak Republic guarantees to all the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, the Draft Treaty devotes a special role to the Catholic faith. The Article 2 (3) of the Draft defines the conscientious objection as an objection in connection with principles of freedom of thought, according to which anybody can refuse to do what he or she finds non-corresponding with faith and moral principles. According to the Draft Treaty, Article 3 (1), the faith and moral principles are principles pronounced by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Therefore, only those who profess Catholic faith will profit from the generally accessible benefit.
At the same time, it points to the fact that approximately 70 percent of Slovakia’s population is Catholic. There is thus a risk that acknowledgement of the right to consciencious objection in the area of reproductive health will render access to counseling or particular medical help literally impossible or at least very difficult to women, especially from the countryside.

The draft agreements – and especially the Draft Treaty between the Slovak Republic and the Holy See on the Right to Exercise Conscientious Objection, first of all because of its international character (contrary to the "intrastate" Agreement between the Slovak Republic and Registered Churches and Religious Societies on the Right to Exercise Conscientious Objections) – gradually became a main political topic and polarized the society as well as the Government Coalition.
Christian Democrats expressed that it was for them a major issue, and threatened to leave the Coalition and enter opposition. Finally, they confronted the Prime Minister with an ultimatum : either the draft agreements would be submitted to the Government session, or the CDM would quit the Coalition. In February 2006, since their claims had not been met, they stepped out of the Government Coalition. Ministers nominated by the Christian Democratic Movement resigned and the Head of Parliament gave up his function.

A day before the government break-down, the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession had declared through its general bishop, that it would be willing to modify the text of the Treaty on conscientious objection, for the sake of "reaching a higher peace in the society". Earlier yet, the Prime Minister Dzurinda had strived for a possible modification of the Treaty, namely in a dialogue with the Vice Chairman of the Bishops´ Conference of Slovakia. His efforts, naturally, failed, because the contractual party was the Holy See and not the local Catholic Church.
At the time of the dissolution of the Government Coalition, the Catholic Church, via its spokesman, issued a public explanatory statement. He emphasized that the right to act according to one’s conscience, and not to be forced to act against it, is anchored in the Constitution of the Slovak Republic (Article 24), as well as in the basic international documents. It is a part of the secular legislation. At the same time, for a majority of Slovakia’s citizens, the conscience is formed by religious beliefs. Two spheres are meeting here. Their relationship needs to be legally defined so that these rights and freedoms can be actually fulfilled. Among others, the spokesman also expressed that the Catholic Church was sorry to see the Draft Treaty used as a bias of the premature election calculations.

Thus the former Government Coalition did not achieve consensus, and the supporters of agreements did not manage to define the possibility to exercise conscientious objection at a higher level – on the basis of an international treaty. Post-electoral development has brought about a kind of a moratorium which would perhaps be used for a better handling of this issue at an expert level, and subsequently for a discussion in the society in a more peaceful atmosphere.
It seems that we have returned to the starting point of our discussion on the Draft Treaty and Draft Agreement on the right to exercise conscientious objection, to the definition of terms, and somehow to the beginning of the efforts to handle this issue. The said regress can be a multilevel impetus for a deeper consideration of the essence of the conscience, one of the fundamental human rights. Its exercise ranks with the elemental preconditions of a standard functioning of the democratic society. Besides the freedom of conscience, values referring to sense of human life, human dignity and other values, considered by the churches and religious societies as the highest ones, belong to the crucial terms of the draft agreements.

Read a full article.

For further information, read :
Draft treaty between the Slovak Republic and the Holy See on the Right to Objection of Conscience .
Draft treaty between the Slovak Republic and registered churches and religious communities on the Right to Objection of Conscience.

3 octobre 2012