Turkey still failing to respect right to conscientious objection


Turkey still failing to respect right to conscientious objection
(Brussels, 19 December 2011) Amnesty International has charged Turkey with failing to present a report to the latest Committee of Ministers' Human Rights Meeting at the Council of Europe on its progress in implementing a 2006 European Court decision on the right to conscientious objection. 
Several Turkish ministers have recently gone public about reforming compulsory military service, and have indicated they are unlikely to include legal provisions which recognise the right to conscientious objection.
The Committee of Ministers has repeated its call on Turkey to provide tangible information and a clear timetable in the form of an action plan before their next meeting in March 2012.
In the 2006 case Ulke vs Turkey, the European Court of Human Rights found that that the applicant’s repeated convictions and imprisonment for having refused to perform compulsory military service owing to his beliefs as a pacifist and conscientious objector amounted to degrading treatment under the Convention.
Turkey has a long history of violating the right to refuse compulsory military service for reasons of conscience as stipulated by several international human rights instruments to which the country is a party.
Amnesty International has urged the Turkish Government to ensure this right is fully recognised and carried out without delay.
Turkey is one of the last countries in Europe which does not allow its citizens to act according to their conscience in relation to military service. They must be given the choice of non-punitive civilian service and be able freely to express their views.