Release conscientious objector Kamran Shikhaliyev: on trial now

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Use this form to send the letter below to the relevant authority (President Ilham Aliyev). You can add your own notes in a separate box after the standard text, if you wish. You must include a name, address, and email address; a copy will be sent to you with a cc to the WRI office (so we have a record of how many email letters have been sent out for this particular case).

Dear President Ilham Aliyev,

Conscientious objector Kamran Shikhaliyev is on trial today in Jalilabad Military Court.

Charged with fraudulently evading military service, Kamran faces a maximum two-year term in a military disciplinary prison if convicted. Shikhaliyev, a Jehovah's Witness from Baku, was seized at Nizami District Conscription Office on 10 October 2013 as he responded to a call-up notice.

Since his detention in October 2013, Shikhaliyev has faced "physical abuse, verbal humiliation, and psychological pressure", according to Jehovah's Witnesses, speaking to Forum 18. Nonetheless he has refused to wear a military uniform, perform military duties, or take the military oath".

Azerbaijan is a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights, which both recognise the right to conscientious objection. When Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe, it committed to recognising the right to conscientious objection, and making provision for substitute service. Whilst the constitution was amended to allow for substitute service, no legislation was adopted to allow and regulate provision for this service.

In August 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Committee recommended to Azerbaijan "that a law exempting conscientious objectors from compulsory military service and providing for alternative civil service of equivalent length be adopted at an early date in compliance with article 18 of the Covenant and the Committee's General Comment No. 22".

On October 15 2012, the Council of Europe's Venice Commission adopted a joint Opinion on Azerbaijan's Religion Law with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The Opinion noted Azerbaijan's failure to meet its Council of Europe obligation to introduce a substitute service.

Following the Opinion of the Council of Europe's Venice Commission, the Azerbaijani government noted that Article 76 Part 2 of Azerbaijan's Constitution notes the right to alternative service. However, the Law provides no mechanism for conscientious objectors to be approved for alternative service. I urge you to implement a provision for conscientious objection to military service, as stated in Article 76 of the constitution.

I urge you to intervene in the event of Kamran Shikhaliyev being found guilty, in line with Azerbaijan's international commitments, and to investigate his maltreatment which in detention.

Yours sincerely,