Council of Europe to call on Turkey to immediately implement the ECtHR’ s rulings on conscientious objection

by Connection e.V.

(05.11.2021) In response to a so-called action plan by the Turkish government, theAssociation for Conscientious Objection, based in Istanbul, Turkey,  together with a number of other organisations, submitted a statement to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on Wednesday to "request the Turkish government to take legislative measures without delay to recognize the right to conscientious objection to military service." (...more)

"It is unbelievable," said Rudi Friedrich of the association Connection e.V. today, which is co-responsible for the statement, "with what impudence the Turkish government legitimises the practice of persecuting conscientious objectors in Turkey with its action plan on the issue of conscientious objection submitted to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in August 2021. Furthermore, conscientious objectors are subjected to a lifelong cycle of denial, prosecution and recruitment. They are also denied many important civil rights."

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has the task of monitoring the implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and calling for necessary changes. Since the Court has already issued several judgements on the issue of conscientious objection, the Committee of Ministers grouped these cases together in the so-called Ülke Group. Most recently, in June 2020, the Committee of Ministers called on Turkey to recognize the right to conscientious objection. In their decision, the Committee noted "that no progress has been achieved despite the authorities’ undertaking, during the Committee’s previous examinations, to move forward with legislative amendments; therefore, invited the authorities to provide an action plan by with concrete proposals for measures to address the Court’s finding on this group of cases before 21 June 2021." (…more)

The Turkish government finally submitted the required action plan in August 2021. In fact, there is no proposal in it for legislative measures to recognize the right to conscientious objection. Instead, it states that an amendment to the law in 2019 reduced the duration of military service from 12 months to 6 months and that the system of "military service by payment" had been made permanent for conscripts living in Turkey. "If the person concerned so wish," the Turkish government said, "he can benefit from this opportunity by paying a certain sum. In this case, the persons concerned are deemed to have performed military service if they have completed one-month basic training." (…more)

"For us, the answer is clear," adds Rudi Friedrich. "One month is one month too many. Everyone who decides to do paid military service must still complete one month of basic training. This cannot be accepted by conscientious objectors. In addition, people who are considered to be conscientious objectors or deserters cannot avail themselves of this option at all under the law. This also means that none of the previous conscientious objectors could take up this option."

"The Turkish government," Rudi Friedrich continued, "is trying to shirk its responsibility and sell this to the Committee of Ministers as significant progress. It is an unspeakable game played out on the backs of conscientious objectors who have suffered decades of persecution and deprivation of essential civil rights."

The statement of the organisations can be downloaded at The statement was submitted jointly by the Association for Conscientious Objection in Turkey, the Freedom of Belief Initiative in Turkey, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, War Resisters’ International, the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection and Connection e.V.

The action plan of the Turkish government can be downloaded at{%22EXECIdentifier%22:[%22DH-DD(2021)775E%22]}

Connection e.V.: Press release November 5, 2021

Keywords:    ⇒ Civil Society   ⇒ Connection e.V. - About Us   ⇒ Conscientious Objection   ⇒ Europe   ⇒ Prosecution   ⇒ Turkey