Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe urges Turkey to recognize the right of conscientious objection


The Deputies

1. recalled that these cases concern the applicants’ repetitive prosecutions and convictions for refusing to carry out compulsory military service as pacifists and conscientious objectors, as a result of which they are compelled to lead clandestine lives amounting to “civil death”, and the absence of a procedure to establish their status as conscientious objectors;

As regards individual measures

2. noted that the applicants Mehmet Tarhan, Caglar Buldu, Enver Aydemir, Feti Demirtas, Nevzat Umdu, Barış Görmez and Halil Savda are no longer under the obligation to perform military service;

3. expressed deep concern that Osman Murat Ülke, Yunus Erçep and Ersin Ölgün are still considered draft evaders and continue to face a situation of “civil death” and strongly urged the authorities to take all necessary measures without further delay to ensure that these three applicants are no longer prosecuted or convicted for refusing to carry out military service;

4. invited the authorities to clarify by 1 September 2020, and if needed  to take the necessary steps to make sure, that all the consequences of the violations have been remedied for all nine applicants, namely reimbursement of administrative fines, lifting of arrest warrants for previous sentences, erasure of criminal records, and finally that none of the applicants are still under the risk of prosecution and imprisonment for refusing to pay the administrative fines issued in relation to their claims to conscientious objection status;

5. further invited the authorities to provide information on the outcome of the criminal proceedings against Mehmet Tarhan and on the criminal proceedings against the perpetrators of ill-treatment in the Enver Aydemir case;

As regards general measures

6. regretted that no progress has been achieved despite the authorities’ undertaking, during the Committee’s previous examinations, to move forward with legislative amendments; invited therefore the authorities to provide an action plan with concrete proposals for measures to address the Court’s findings in this group of cases before 21 June 2021;

7. further invited the authorities to provide statistical information on the number of conscientious objectors in Turkey and on administrative fines, prosecutions and convictions delivered in this connection since the Ülke judgment became final in 2006.

Committee of Ministers: H46-40 Ülke group v. Turkey (Application no 39437/98), 13377th meeting, June 4, 2020, CM/Del/Dec(2020)1377/H46-40. Source:

Keywords:    ⇒ Conscientious Objection   ⇒ Europe   ⇒ Human Rights   ⇒ Turkey