Government proposes scrapping Jehovah’s Witness conscription exemption

The exemption was first introduced in the 1980s and will now be phased out.

Finnish soldiers walking in the forest / Credit: Finnish Defence Command

The government has made a proposal to end an exemption from military conscription for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

At present, Finnish Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t have to do compulsory military or civilian service, a right given to them under the 1987 ‘Jehovah’s Witness Exemption Act’.

But now officials say it’s difficult to justify special treatment for one group of people in society.

Members of Parliament could start discussing the proposal as early next week, and it is expected that there will be a transition period as the act is annulled.

There are still exemptions given for elite Finnish athletes, such as NHL players, who are allowed to put their playing careers ahead of their conscription obligations.

Women are also exempt from compulsory military service.