Savda v. Turkey, application no. 42730/05 (12 June 2012)

Refusal to grant conscientious objector status is not necessary in a democratic society In today’s Chamber judgment in the case Savda v. Turkey (application no. 42730/05), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
violations of Article 3 (prohibition of degrading treatment) and 9 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights; and a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention on account of the lack of independence and impartiality of the military court.

The case concerned the failure to recognise the right to conscientious objection, which would enable refusals to carry out military service to be legitimised in Turkey. The Court reiterated that the system of compulsory military service in force in Turkey allowed for no exceptions on grounds of conscience and resulted in heavy criminal sanctions being imposed on those who refused to comply. Such a system failed to strike a proper balance between the general interest of society and that of conscientious objectors. The penalties, sanctions, convictions and prosecutions imposed on conscientious objectors, when no measures were provided to take account of the requirements of their consciences and convictions, could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society.

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