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The absence of an alternative to military service in Turkey is in breach of the right to conscientious objection

(22.11.2011) In today’s Chamber judgment in the case Erçep v. Turkey (application no. 43965/04), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

A violation of Article 9 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights and,

A violation of Article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the Convention.

The case concerned the refusal by the applicant, a Jehovah’s Witness and conscientious objector, to perform military service for reasons of conscience.

Turkey: Enhanced procedure to the case of Osman Murat Ülke

(23.09.2011) The Deputies expressed grave concern with regard to the fact that there was currently a valid arrest warrant against the applicant on account of a criminal investigation pending against him for desertion, 

stressed that the European Court in its present judgment found that “the numerous criminal proceedings brought against the applicant, the cumulative effects of the ensuing criminal convictions and constant alternation between prosecution and imprisonment together with the possibility that he would face prosecution for the rest of his life, are disproportionate to the aim of ensuring that he performs his military service”, expressed further their grave concern that this judgment still remains to be executed, insisted in this respect that Turkey informs the Committee of Ministers of the legislative measures required in time before the December DH meeting, including on their content and their time table for adoption.

Armenia: Imprisonment of conscientious objector violated Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights

(07.07.2011) In today’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case Bayatyan v. Armenia (application no. 23459/03), which is final, the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been a violation of Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned the conviction in 2003 of a conscientious objector - a Jehovah’s Witness - for his refusal to perform military service. He was imprisoned despite Armenia’s undertaking, when joining the Council of Europe on 25 January 2001, to introduce civilian service as an alternative to compulsory military service within three years and to pardon all conscientious objectors sentenced to imprisonment.

Britain: Conscientious objector Michael Lyons sentenced to 7 months’ imprisonment

(05.07.2011) A military court in Portsmouth sentenced British conscientious objector Michael Lyons to seven months’ imprisonment today, following a two-day trial. Michael Lyons joined the Royal Navy as a medic in 2005, and in May 2010 he was notified that he would be deployed to Afghanistan later that year. Soon after, he applied for discharge as a conscientious objector, as he had developed a conscientious objection to participating in the war in Afghanistan in particular, and against war in general.