Whether there is conscription for military service; if so, conditions for conscription, and penalties for evading military service (2000-2002) [CHL37938.E]

The Chilean Navy reports that the various aspects of the current compulsory military service (servicio militar obligatorio, SMO) are governed by Decree-Law No. 2306 of 2 August 1978 (Armada de Chile 29 Aug. 2001). The General Directorate of National Mobilization (DGMN), a government military institution which oversees among other things military service conscription, reports that, in addition to this law, military service in Chile is governed by the Constitution, the regulations that complement Decree-Law 2306 (Reglamento Complementario), and the Regulations on Selection and Unit Detachment of the Armed Forces (Reglamento de Selección y Acuartelamiento de Contingente de las FF.AA.) (DGMN n.d.a).

The Chilean Navy adds that its mandatory service lasts 22 months, with calls for service in January and July of each year; a basic 4-month training course is given to conscripts, who are then transferred to various branches and units of the Navy (Armada de Chile 29 Aug. 2001). Conscripts can chose additional one-month training courses to specialize in areas that could be useful in civilian life, ranging from mechanical and electronic trades (welding, diesel engine repair, electrician) to personal services (barber, tailor, baker) (ibid.).

The information that follows was published by the Ministry of Defence of Chile.

Chilean citizens must register for possible military service during the year in which they reach 18 years of age (Ministerio de Defensa 18 Mar. 2002a). At the time of registration, citizens can choose a branch or geographic region where they prefer to serve if selected (ibid.). Of the 120,000 persons who register for military service every year, only 25,000 to 30,000 are selected for service; for those selected, the period of service can range from 12 months to 24 months, depending on the branch and group of the armed forces for which they are selected (ibid. 18 Mar. 2002b). Conscripts receive a wage and medical benefits, and are guaranteed their positions at work or school if they have to leave these to serve (ibid. 18 Mar. 2002a).

Students of post-secondary institutions and high-school students who have received scholarships can obtain a postponement of service for up to 12 years, while ministers of any religion certified as such by their supervising or higher religious authority can be exempted from service (ibid. 18 Mar. 2002c). Also exempt from military service are those who have a mental or physical disability, citizens considered "morally unfit" (no aptos moralmente) for military service, and citizens who are serving a prison term (ibid. 18 Mar. 2002a).

There are the following types (modalidades) of military service: a) ordinary military service or ordinary conscription (Conscripción Ordinaria, CO) (ibid.; ibid. 18 Mar. 2002d), where conscripts are randomly selected and serve for 12-24 months; b) special course for students (Curso Especial de Estudiantes, CE), which provides between 75 and 150 days of training during one or two summers for high school students who volunteer for this program; c) anticipatory compulsory military service for students (Servicio Militar Obligatorio Anticipado para Estudiantes, SMOAE), a pilot program that provides training to students twice a month on Saturdays with 20 days of field training; d) service provision (Prestación de Servicios), an alternative for professionals or skilled workers whose trade can be of use to the armed forces, and which requires a maximum service of 180 days over two years, broken into two periods of no more than 90 days each (ibid.). Since 1999 women have been able to volunteer for military service, and may serve as required with the various branches of the armed forces (ibid.; ibid. 18 Mar. 2002a).

Citizens who fail to register in the military service system during the legally established periods will be reported as "infractors" (infractores) before a military tribunal (DGMN n.d.b). As a consequence, they will not be employable in a state-owned business, may have difficulty in obtaining a higher education diploma, will have a record of any sanction issued by the military tribunal, may be required to perform military service for twice the regular duration of the service, or may be jailed for a period ranging from 60 to 541 days (ibid.). Those failing to report for service after being selected and called to serve, will be reported as "remiss" (remisos) before a military tribunal (ibid. n.d.c). As a consequence, they may face the same penalties as citizens who fail to register for military service (ibid.).

In recent years, a number of changes and incentives related to the compulsory military service system have been implemented: in addition to training courses and travel from remote postings to their homes during service, as well as scholarships and assistance in finding employment after service, the compulsory selection for service is preceded by a call for volunteers (Ministerio de Defensa 18 Mar. 2002e). The vacancies not covered by volunteers are then covered through the selection process for compulsory service (ibid.).

A late 1999 article reports that the Chilean military service system does provide for some exemptions from service based on educational, employment and health considerations of youths liable for conscription (Qué Pasa 15 Nov. 1999). The report indicates that there is no provision for conscientious objection, and quotes Juan Pablo Letelier, a deputy of the governing Socialist Party who later presented a bill on military service, as stating that the current system is discriminatory: according to the deputy, only youths from middle and lower socio-economic backgrounds actually perform the compulsory military service (ibid.).

In early 2000, two deputies, including Juan Pablo Letelier, prepared a bill to reform Decree-Law 2306, to postpone service requirements for students and for those who provide the sole economic sustenance of a household (La Tercera 19 Mar. 2000), while in mid 2000 a forum gathering representatives from more than 100 government and non-government institutions met to discuss possible changes to the compulsory military service system (ibid. 20 Apr. 2000; DGMN 2001).

As a result of this forum, on 18 December 2000 the President signed a Supreme Decree approving a proposed modernization of the military service system over the following five years (ibid.). Legislative changes are expected to come into force in 2003 and/or 2004, with full implementation of a new system in 2005 (ibid.).

Additional information on military service, including penalties for evasion, can be found in CHL28263.E of 5 November 1997, CHL27365.E of 29 August 1997, and other earlier Responses. No reference to changes in recruitment practice or legislation since 1998 could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Armada de Chile, Santiago. 29 August 2001. "Servicio Militar Obligatorio." http://www.armada.cl/serv_militar/index.html [Accessed 29 May 2002]

Dirección General de Movilización Nacional (DGMN), Santiago. n.d.a. "¿Cuál es su Normativa Legal?" http://www.dgmn.cl/reser7.htm [Accessed 24 May 2002]

_____. n.d.b. "¿Qué pasa si no me inscribo?" http://www.dgmn.cl/reser29.htm [Accessed 24 May 2002]

_____. n.d.c. "¿Qué pasa si no me presento?" http://www.dgmn.cl/reser28.htm [Accessed 24 May 2002]

_____. 2001. "Modernizacion del sistema de servicio militar-voluntariedad en principio, obligatoriedad en subsidio." http://www.dgmn.cl/nuevo2.htm [Accessed 24 May 2002]

Ministerio de Defensa, Santiago. 18 March 2002a. "Preguntas Frecuentes." http://www.defensa.cl/paginas/public/servicio/preguntas.htm [Accessed 29 May 2002]

_____. 18 March 2002b. "Política de Gobierno." http://www.defensa.cl/paginas/public/servicio/politica.htm [Accessed 29 May 2002]

_____. 18 March 2002c. "Exenciones y Postergaciones." http://www.defensa.cl/paginas/public/servicio/exenciones.htm [Accessed 29 May 2002]

_____. 18 March 2002d. "Modalidades del Servicio Militar Obligatorio." http://www.defensa.cl/paginas/public/servicio/modalidad.htm [Accessed 29 May 2002]

_____. 18 march 2002e. "Programa de Incentivos." http://www.defensa.cl/paginas/public/servicio/incentivos.htm [Accessed 29 May 2002]

Qué Pasa [Santiago]. 15 November 1999. No. 1492. Luis Pino Gumucio. "Cuarteles en la mira." http://www.quepasa.cl/revista/1492/33.html [Accessed 29 May 2002]

La Tercera [Santiago]. 20 April 2000. Marcela Alam. "'Mesa de diálogo' para reformular servicio militar." http://www.tercera.ia.cl/diario/2000/04/20/t-20.17.3a.CRO.SERVICIOS.html [Accessed 29 May 2002]

_____. 19 March 2000. Alberto Loy. "Proyecto para flexibilizar servicio militar." http://www.tercera.cl/diario/2000/03/19/t-19.16.3a.CRO.ARICA.html [Accessed 29 May 2002]