Some 41 men were jailed in 2006 for refusing to attend the armed forces recruitment days, failing to turn up to military service or deserting.
All Swedish men are currently liable to receive call-up papers when they are 19. If they pass army tests, they can then then be forced to either serve in the army or carry out community service.
Now, nine out of 17 members of the Swedish parliament’s defence committee say there should be no punishment for refusing to cooperate with the military service system in peacetime, according to a survey by TV4.
Those in favour of abolishing punishments were drawn from both the right and left-wing blocs. Only one member of the committee thought that those who refused to cooperate should face prosecution. The remaining seven members of the committee were undecided.
Staffan Danielsson, a member of the committee from the Centre Party, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, said the fact that the army only uses a small number of those eligible for military service meant changes are needed.
“We recruit 6,000-8,000 people every year to carry out military service, from a yearly cohort of around 100,000. We should be able to get well-motivated men and women to do this job on a voluntary basis. That we then punish them who due to their convictions do not want to do it – that doesn’t feel good,” Danielsson told TV4.