TURKEY: Conscientious objector Halil Savda sentenced twice - to a total of 21.5 months in prison


Today, the Corlu military court
sentenced conscientious objector Halil Savda to a further six months
imprisonment, bringing his total prison time up to 21.5 months. Already
on 15 March 2007, Halil Savda had been sentenced to 15 months
imprisonment on charges of desertion and disobeying orders ? by the
same court that now sentenced him again for disobeying orders.

Already the sentence from 15 March constitutes a violation of Article 9
of the European Convention on Human Rights, and Article 18 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Freedom of
thought, conscience, and religion), both of which Turkey has signed and

The new sentence is not only a violation of Article 9 ECHR and Article
18 ICCPR, it also constitutes a violation of Article 14 para 7 of the
ICCPR, which states that "no one shall be liable to be tried or
punished again for an offence for which he has already been finally
convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure
of each country
". The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention made this clear in its opinion 36/1999, on the very similar
case of conscientious objector Osman Murat Ulke: "The Working Group
is of the opinion that there is, since, after the initial conviction,
the person

exhibits, for reasons of conscience, a constant resolve not to obey the
subsequent summons, so that there is "one and the same action entailing
the same consequences and, therefore, the offence is the same and not a
new one" (see Decision of the Constitutional Court of the Czech
Republic, 18 September 1999, No. 2, No. 130/95). Systematically to
interpret such a refusal as being perhaps provisional (selective)
would, in a country where the rule of law prevails, be tantamount to
compelling someone to change his mind for fear of being deprived of his
liberty if not for life, at least until the date at which citizens
cease to be liable to military service.

The sentence also goes against the spirit of the judgement of the
European Court of Human Rights from 24 January 2006 on the case of
Osman Murat Ulke. The court noted: "The numerous criminal
prosecutions against the applicant, the cumulative effects of the
criminal convictions which resulted from them and the constant
alternation between prosecutions and terms of imprisonment, together
with the possibility that he would be liable to prosecution for the
rest of his

life, had been disproportionate to the aim of ensuring that he did his
military service. They were more calculated to repressing the
applicant?s intellectual personality, inspiring in him feelings of
fear, anguish and vulnerability capable of humiliating and debasing him
and breaking his resistance and will. The clandestine life amounting
almost to ?civil death? which the applicant had been compelled to adopt
was incompatible with the punishment regime of a democratic society."

Even after a release from prison, Halil Savda will not be free - he
will either be sent back to his military unit, or be forced to live a
clandestine life.

In accordance with Turkish practice, the court did not go into the
reasoning for the sentence - the reasons why the court thought it
possible to sentence Halil Savda for the second time for what has to be
considered as one and the same offence will only be known when the
written judgement will be available.

More information on Halil Savda and conscientious objection in Turkey
is available at http://wri-irg.org/co/turkcampaign-en.htm.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Halil

Halil Savda

5. Kolordu Komutanligi,

Askeri Cezaevi

Corlu ? Tekirdag


War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the
Turkish authorities, and Turkish embassies abroad.

* General Staff of the Turkish Military: Fax +90-312-4250813

* Presidency of the Turkish Republic: Fax +90-312-4271330, email


* A protest email to the Turkish President Ahmet Nezdet Secer can be
sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20070412a.html.

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Halil

Savda and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck

War Resisters' International

Archives of co-alert can be found at http://wri-irg.org/news/alerts