Azerbaijan: ECHR judgement on Conscientious Objectors cases

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Azerbaijan soldiers marching

On 17th October, European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) convicted Azerbaijan for violating Article 9 (right to freedom of conscience, thought and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights in the case of five conscientious objectors (all Jehovah's Witnesses) who were prosecuted and sentenced to imprisonment for their refusal to perform military service.  

Mushfig Faig oglu Mammadov, Samir Asif oglu Huseynov, Farid Hasan oglu Mammadov, Fakhraddin Jeyhun oglu Mirzayev and Kamran Ziyafaddin oglu Mirzayev, the oldest 36 and the youngest 25, according to the press release of the ECtHR "informed their local military commissariats or recruitment offices that they wished to be exempted from such service and, in the case of most of them, to perform alternative civilian service".

The Court statement said "the criminal prosecutions and convictions of the applicants on account of their refusal to perform military service had stemmed from the fact that there was no alternative service system under which individuals could benefit from conscientious objector status. That amounted to an interference which had not been necessary in a democratic society." 

"The case," the Court statement followed, "highlighted an issue relating to the lack of legislation on civilian service as an alternative to military service in Azerbaijan. The enactment of such a law corresponded to a commitment entered into by Azerbaijan on its accession to the Council of Europe and was also a requirement under the country’s own Constitution."

To read the press release (English) and/or the complete judgment (French) see the documents below. 

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