For Immediate Release
May 20, 2010
European Court to reconsider issue of conscientious objection in Armenia
YEREVAN, Armenia—On May 10, 2010, a panel of five judges of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights accepted Mr. Vahan Bayatyan’s request to have his case reviewed.
On October 27, 2009, a panel of seven judges of the European Court ruled that freedom of conscience as defined in Article 9 of the European Convention did not protect the rights of conscientious objectors. However, dissenting judge Anne Power, from Ireland, found this ruling “incompatible with current European standards on the question of conscientious objection.” Judge Elisabet Fura, from Sweden, was initially of the view that the Grand Chamber should “examine the issue/revisit the case-law.” The Grand Chamber will now have the opportunity to review the Court’s 50-year case law on the subject of conscientious objection and bring it up-to-date with current European standards.
According to attorney André Carbonneau, “This is very good news not only for Vahan Bayatyan, convicted and sentenced to a two-and-a-half-year prison term because his Bible-educated conscience did not allow him to perform military service, but also for the 73 conscientious objectors currently serving prison terms in Armenia.”
The decision of the Grand Chamber on this issue will have a major impact not only on the few Council of Europe countries, such as Armenia, that do not recognize the right of conscientious objectors, but it will also have an impact on countries like South Korea, where there are currently 812 conscientious objectors in prison.
Contact in Europe: European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses
Telephone: +44 20-8906-2211
Telephone: +32 2-782-0015
Contact in United States: David Semonian, Office of Public Information
Telephone +1 718 560 5600