Azerbaijan imprisons conscientious objector
(20.10.2010) Baku, Azerbaijan - A three-judge panel of the Baku Court of Appeal upheld the Nasimi District Court’s conviction of conscientious objector Farid Mammedov. The court pronounced judgment on September 8, 2010, and immediately thereafter the 22-year-old was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs and taken to prison to serve a nine-month sentence.
Since he was first called up to military service in 2006, Mammedov repeatedly requested permission to perform alternative civilian service that is not under military control. His conscience does not permit him to take up arms and learn war.
Although the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic guarantees conscientious objectors the right to be provided with alternative service, the Court of Appeal decision stated that Farid Mammedov’s arguments were “not provided for in local legislation.” In other words, because Azerbaijan has failed to enact legislation establishing a mechanism for alternative service, Mammedov has been convicted and imprisoned as a criminal. He intends to appeal his case to the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan.
The Court of Appeal decision comes a few months before Azerbaijan marks the 10th anniversary of its membership in the Council of Europe. Since its accession on January 25, 2001, Azerbaijan has failed to fulfill its commitment to adopt a law on alternative civilian service. Currently, almost all of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe respect the rights of conscientious objectors. The conviction and imprisonment of Farid Mammedov demonstrates that Azerbaijan chooses to remain an exception.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Azerbaijan imprisons conscientious objector. October 20, 2010, http://www.jw-media.org/aze/20101020.htm