Bayatyan v Armenia, application no. 23459/03 (7 July 2011)
Imprisonment of conscientious objector in Armenia for refusing to do military service violated his right to freedom of religion
In today’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case Bayatyan v. Armenia (application no. 23459/03), which is final, the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been:
A violation of Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned the conviction in 2003 of a conscientious objector - a Jehovah’s Witness - for his refusal to perform military service. He was imprisoned despite Armenia’s undertaking, when joining the Council of Europe on 25 January 2001, to introduce civilian service as an alternative to compulsory military service within three years and to pardon all conscientious objectors sentenced to imprisonment.