On March 2, the amended Law “On Compulsory Military Responsibilities and Military Service” came into force in Tajikistan. The amendments were actively discussed in society, since the undergraduates and students of higher educational institutions, who, in fact, should be exempt from military service, began receiving summons from the military registration offices.
However, according to the new regulations, from now on, everyone should serve in the army – even those who have received a military identity card. In addition, the most long-awaited reform was introduced: now, you can officially “buy” a military ID and not serve during one or two years. However, it turned out that the majority of Tajikistan residents cannot afford this fee.
There are two conscription periods every year in Tajikistan: in spring and autumn. Young Tajiks from 18 to 27 years old are conscripted for military service. The period of service is 2 years. Previously, the university graduates who received a military ID were exempted from the service.
In his speech in the Lower House of Parliament of the country, the Minister of Defense of Tajikistan Sherali Mirzo highlighted that the purpose of the new law is to improve the image of the army, to improve the public opinion of the conscription campaigns and to eliminate the existing problems.
Speaking of which, there are many problems in the Tajik army. During the past 10 years, the main reasons for the public distrust are the frequent deaths of recruits during the service or cases when soldiers return home injured.
Therefore, in Tajikistan, the practice of forced conscription of young people into the army during the raids on the streets became widespread. This happens every spring and autumn. Considering this, the parents of young people of military age seek either to send their sons to labour migration to another country, or to help them enter a university with a reserve-officer training departments.
However, the Minister of Defense noted that in order to create motivation among the population to go to army, the new law gives people privileges.
“For example, those who want to enrol in university after the army will be awarded additional points during the entrance exams. In addition, the regional employment centres are obliged to employ young people after their service in the army and pay them a one-time benefit,” he said.
Another innovation is that from now on, the citizens of Tajikistan who have not served in the army will not be hired in a number of government agencies. Previously, this was mandatory only for those wanting to work in the Ministry of Defense, the State Committee for National Security and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the country. Now, the list of such agencies includes bodies of judicial system, prosecutor’s office, state financial control and anti-corruption, drug control and customs.
How can you “buy” a military ID?
According to the Ministry of Defense, there are about 400 thousand men of conscription age (from 18 to 27) in Tajikistan. Of these, only 10-15% are conscripted for compulsory service, the remaining 350 thousand are permanently or temporarily exempted from military service.
Previously, there was a loophole used often – for a certain fee, a conscript was recognized unfit for military service. However, this did not guarantee that he would not be drafted next year.
Now, according to the new law, this fee became official and having paid certain amount to the state treasury, the conscript receives the military identity card, and must undergo military training during one month to learn how to hold a weapon and shoot. After that, he receives, along with a military ID, the rank of private in the reserve.
According to preliminary information, the fee for such military service will be in the range from 25 to 28 thousand somoni ($2,212-2,477). The Ministry of Defense does not disclose the approved amount, and notes that this proposal is under the consideration of the government.
Under the new regulations, the government will annually approve a fee for a military ID in separate decrees. The payment will be made via the State Savings Bank “Amonatbonk”, its branches and offices throughout Tajikistan to a special account of the Ministry of Defense.
These funds will be spent on the maintenance of the army. Perhaps, the government intends to make this structure self-sufficient gradually in order to reduce the state budget spending on its maintenance. The costs of army maintenance in Tajikistan are classified.
Those who pay this fee will need to serve one month to learn the basics of military training. The separate military bases with commanders will be created for them. The Ministry of Defense explains this by the fact that every recruit in reserve must know the basics of military training in order to be ready for service in the case of military mobilization.
In the Tajik segment of Facebook, this amendment caused a discussion, because not every family can afford to pay such a fee. Today, the average nominal wage in Tajikistan is 1642 somoni ($145), and the minimum wage is 400 somoni ($35).
The previous Law “On Compulsory Military Responsibilities and Military Service” contained a point: a university graduate (Bachelor or Master), who received a military ID, was appointed a junior officer in the reserve. That is, he could not be conscripted into the army.
The Article 29 of the new law notes that the citizens of Tajikistan under 27, who have not completed military service, who graduated from the reserve-officer training departments of state higher-educational institutions and were included in the reserve of the Armed Forces of Tajikistan with the military rank of an officer, should be conscripted for compulsory military service. The old version of the law stated that this category of citizens is exempt from service.
Therefore, according to the new regulations, a student who received a military ID, is appointed a private and, after graduation, is obliged to serve one year to receive the rank of junior lieutenant in the reserve.
In case if university does not have a reserve-officer training department, a graduate must also serve one year and receive the rank up to sergeant: private, corporal, junior sergeant and sergeant.
If a young man could not enrol in the university, and does not meet the criteria for those exempted from service, he is obliged to serve 2 years. However, in such a case, the parents try to send their son to work or study in Russia or Kazakhstan.
Who is not conscripted into the army?
The Article 30 of the new law lists the reasons that exempt citizens of draft age from military service:
conscripts unfit for military service due to medical conditions;
those who have served or have completed other service equivalent to the military service in another country;
those serving a sentence of imprisonment.
Who is exempt from the military service?
The following citizens of draft age have the right to be exempt from the military service:
1) those whose relative (father, mother, brother or sister) died during military service in a rank of a private, sergeant, warrant officer or officer, or got an injury leading to disability category 1 or 2;
2) the only sons (adopted sons) in a family;
3) those having Ph.D. or similar academic degree.
Who has the right to defer from military service?
The following persons have the right to defer from military service:
Those recognized as temporarily incapable of work due to medical condition. The deferment period is 6 months.
Those caring for a family member needing assistance that is not fully covered by the state; and only if there are no other persons who are legally obliged to care and provide for the specified family member. The family members are considered to be in need for assistance if they reached the retirement age or have a disability category 1 or 2, as well as those family members under 18;
Students of general education, primary and secondary vocational educational institutions are exempt from military service until their graduation.
Those raising a child without a mother.
Those against whom a criminal case was initiated – until a decision on the case.
Those serving a criminal sentence of compulsory correctional labour or imprisonment.
In addition, the following citizens have the right to defer from military service:
A conscript whose mother has two or more minor children and brings them up without a spouse. In this case, military service can be deferred until the minor child (son) reaches the age of majority.
Those elected as a deputy of the local Majlis of People’s Deputies – service deferred until the end of their term of office.
Those studying for the first time at the full-time departments of higher educational institutions to obtain the qualifications of a Bachelor or Specialist – service deferred until graduation.
Teachers with higher pedagogical education working in rural educational institutions are exempted for the period of this work.
Those with higher medical education working in rural healthcare institutions are exempted for the period of this work.