More than 3,700 former national guardsmen who have failed to sign up as reservists have been tracked down in the past few months as a result of closer cooperation between the defence ministry and police, reports said on Thursday.
Most are university graduates, who although having completed their studies abroad and returned home, did not report to the recruitment departments as legally obliged.
According to Politis, the auditor-general’s office estimates there are approximately 11,000 former national guardsmen who fail to show up for reservist duties either because their residential address is unknown or because they are falsely registered as still studying or working abroad
But since January, police and the defence ministry linked up their systems, allowing police – especially at entry points to the Republic – to check whether individuals are on the list of those who have failed to report for reservist duty. They are then given 15 days to do so, or face action from military authorities for insubordination.
So far, the drive has located 3,709 such cases. The success is reflected in the number of reservists’ call-up papers issued by police.
In 2021, police stations issued 847 papers for the whole year. After having the police and army records interconnected, the figure shot up to 3,709 within four months. That is, on average, 928 per month. These figures are expected to grow even more during the summer.
Moreover, in its effort to track down dodgers, the state has now granted access to the defence ministry and the National Guard’s general staff to a variety of electronic records from other state bodies.
The commissioner for personal data protection has now given access to more information received by the social security services, including the last month of registered earnings. As far as self-employed individuals are concerned, their last quarterly payment of contributions will also be made available to the army.
Police have also been authorised to issue army papers up until 2023 thus giving them the ability to ‘catch’ dodgers who visit police stations for other reasons.
The defence ministry submitted a bill to the House of Representatives in 2021 that provides for a €500 fine to those who fail to show up for reservist duties. The bill provides the option of paying a €500 fine within 45 days from the date of the offence instead of being criminally prosecuted. And further, if the fine is paid within 15 days, then it is reduced by 50 per cent.
But the bill has proved divisive, amid fears it would just encourage those with deeper pockets to pay a fine and avoid fulfilling their obligations.