War Resisters' International is concerned about the recent arrest of Juma Nazarov, a Jehovah's Witness, for his conscientious objection to military service. Juma Nazarov, 19, is facing prosecution after refusing military service on grounds of religious faith. After he lodged his refusal on 25 April, his case was handed over to prosecutors, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. He was summoned to the Prosecutor's Office on the evening of 7 May where he was questioned about his refusal. Nazarov again signed a statement that he was refusing compulsory military service on grounds of his faith. He was allowed to return home after two and a half hours.
Prosecutors told Nazarov on 8 May to return on the afternoon of 10 May and report to Kerim Allaberdiyev. Prosecutors later told Nazarov's mother that he had been ordered held in pre-trial detention, Forum 18 News reported on 17 May 2012.
The right to refuse military service is part of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion guaranteed by Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Turkmenistan acceded in 1997. It is also part of Turkmenistan's Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) human dimension commitments.
Turkmenistan's report to the UN Human Rights Committee under the ICCPR, submitted on 11 January 2010, contains just one sentence on alternative service, only to dismiss it (see report CCPR/C/TKM1 at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/CCPR.C.TKM.1_ru.doc - in Russian). "The laws of Turkmenistan make no provision for alternative service," the sentence in Paragraph 337 declares bluntly. It gives no explanation or amplification.
A recent amendment to the military service act does not include any provisions for the right to conscientious objection (see CO-Update No 60, October 2010).
The Human Rights Committee stated in its Concluding Observations following a discussion of Turkmenistans human rights situation during its 104th session on 15 and 16 March 2012: "The State party should take all necessary measures to review its legislation with a view to providing for alternative military service. The State party should also ensure that the law clearly stipulates that individuals have the right to conscientious objection to military service. Furthermore, the State party should halt all prosecutions of individuals who refuse to perform military service on grounds of conscience and release those individuals who are currently serving prison sentences." (CCPR/C/TKM/CO/1)
War Resisters' International calls for the protest letters to the Turkmen authorities, and Turkmen embassies abroad.
President of Turkmenistan
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War Resisters' International