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The Tribunal reported on the lives of COs - from their motivations and reasons for Objecting to War to their experiences at Tribunal, in prison and beyond. It was written clearly, and often movingly, with the intention of keeping COs and their thousands of supporters and sympathisers updated with the latest information in the struggle against conscription and militarism.
The Tribunal was named after the boards to which men would apply for exemption from Military Service. Millions of men around the country would apply for exemption on various grounds - only one of which was “a Conscientious Objection to the undertaking of combatant service”. Tribunals would sit in town halls, parish churches and local schools and sought to secure as many men as possible for the army.
They were supposed to judge fairly, recognising the needs of both the military and civilian worlds. In reality they were often harshly dismissive of men applying for exemption - especially to Conscientious Objectors. Their actions and decisions bore little relation to the laws that governed their actions. A Tribunal could grant absolute exemption to a man who had a genuine, strongly felt objection to war.
The fact that only 2% of CO applicants were given exemption shows why the Tribunal magazine proudly displays Webster’s Dictionary definition of it’s title, a wry and mocking.
Read about the stories and events The Tribunal covered in our monthly reviews
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