Another conscientious objector in Northern Cyprus faces a prison sentence

Protest in support of conscientious objection bill in the norther cyprus
Photo: Initiative for Conscientious Objection in Cyprus

Another young man in the self-proclaimed state of Northern Cyprus faces a prison sentence due to his refusal to perform compulsory military service. Initiative for Conscientious Objection in Cyprus activists reported that the refuser, who is a Jehovah’s Witness, refuses to serve in the military on the basis of his beliefs. 

Murat Kanatli from the Initiative for Conscientious Objection in Cyprus said that the young refuser was already sentenced to a fine in the lower court due to his refusal. He appealed the fine and his case has been brought to the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC), which adjourned the decision indefinitely.

On his social media account, Kanatlı said, "The case has been postponed by the court indefinitely for decision, that is, if the law [currently pending in the parliament] is not passed, then the young refuser Jehovah's Witness may face a prison sentence". Kanatli has also said that as conscientious objectors, they’ve exhausted all internal legal mechanisms and that there’s a pending decision at the European Court of Human Rights at the moment.

Kanatlı said, “This person is facing ‘civil death’. As he did not do his military service, he cannot perform any of his related citizenship rights. For example, his right to vote and be elected is violated. Or he can't open a company or bank account."

Recently, the cases of many conscientious objectors in the Northern Cyprus have been in a pending situation, waiting for reconsideration by the courts. Kanatlı thinks that this situation is due to the ongoing cases of conscientious objectors from the Northern Cyprus at the ECtHR. 

According to Kanatlı, conscientious objectors in the Northern Cyprus will continue to face these rights violations until the "Military Service (Amendment) Bill", which recognises the right to conscientious objection, passes in the parliament. The bill was first brought to the Parliament in 2019 but it was later put on hold in the same year with the collapse of the government by then and the formation of a new coalition government. 

Conscription in Northern Cyprus

Since the Turkish army occupied the northern part of Cyprus in 1974, the occupied territories are ruled by a Turkish Cypriot administration. In 1983, it proclaimed 'The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' (TRNC). The entity has not been recognised by any country except Turkey.

TRNC has its own armed forces and conscription system, according to which all men between the ages of 19 and 30 are liable for military service. The length of military service is 15 months and the right to conscientious objection is not recognised.

Follow Initiative for Consicnetious Objection in Cyprus on social media for more updates on Cyprus. 

Also, see here for more detailed information about conscription and conscientious objection in Cyprus.

Source: Initiative for Conscientious Objection in Cyprus; Kibris Postasi, Askerliği inançları doğrultusunda reddeden ‘Yehova Şahidi’nin davası, kararın açıklanması adına süresiz ertelendi, 14 December 2021. 

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