Amendments to Georgia's Defense Code: part-time students to face conscription
Amendments to Georgia’s Defense Code
The Georgian government has proposed amending the defense code, eliminating the deferment of military service for part-time students. The proposed changes will also make alternative labor service more stringent. Parliament is urged to expedite consideration of the initiative.
What will change:
● Distance learning students will not be able to postpone military service. This also applies to students of foreign universities who have stayed in the country and study remotely.
● However, distance students who are deprived of deferment will choose an acceptable form of military service.
● As for non-military, alternative labor service, according to the amendments a conscript has the right to appeal a decision to refuse conscription for alternative labor service within 15 calendar days, but appealing the decision does not terminate it.
● Clergymen will also no longer be able to receive deferment and will have to undergo 12 months of non-military alternative labor service. The exception is ministers of the Orthodox Church – in their case, the constitutional agreement explicitly states that “a clergyman shall be exempt from military service”.
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The initiators of the amendments claim that “the change ensures the full functioning of non-military, alternative labor service”.
On November 12, 2023, the president of Georgia signed the country’s new Defense Code. David Tevzadze, the president’s chief advisor on strategic planning, said that despite its shortcomings, the updated code eliminates one of the important problems: from now on, conscripts will serve only in the Defense Forces, which, according to the presidential advisor, “corresponds to the essence of military service and the interests of the country.”
Following the March 7-8, 2023 protests against the adoption of the law on foreign agents, the Georgian government changed its mind on the controversial amendment that all students would lose the right to deferment altogether. Instead, full-time students under the age of 23 will be able to undergo voluntary military service, spread over four years (e.g., serving during vacations).
The explanatory note to the bill also states that servicemen will be entitled to free travel in public transportation, including trains, within the limits of allocations allocated to the ministry from the state budget. In addition, servicemen will receive a 50% “discount” on public utilities.
It is also planned to increase the salaries of conscripts and they will be able to keep their jobs regardless of the organizational and legal form of the institution.