ICCPR Case Digest

CCPR/C/125/D/2316/2013

Submission: 2013.05.01

View Adopted: 2019.03.29

Arslan Dawletow v. Turkmenistan

Violation of the right to conscientious objection to military service in Turkmenistan, state party ordered to provide alternative methods of civil service

Substantive Issues
  • Freedom of conscience
  • Torture / ill-treatment
Relevant Articles
  • Article 18.1
  • Article 2 - OP1
  • Article 7
Full Text

Facts

The author is a national of Turkmenistan, who claimed that the state party has violated his rights under articles 7 and 18 (1) of the Covenant. He is a Jehovah's Witness who was summoned for military service, however this was deferred due to his suffering from epileptic seizures since childhood and to a confirmed diagnosis of 'asthenic-depressive' syndrome.

He was later brought before a court where he explained that he would be willing to undertake a similar civil obligation however would not bear arms as his conscience did not allow him to. He was sentenced to  24 months imprisonment, and later attempts to appeal have all been denied or proceduraly obstructed. 

Complaint

The author complained that his prosecution and imprisonment for conscientious objection to military service had subjected him to a violation of article 7 of the Covenant, and further that such imprisonment is in violation of article 18(1). 

Admissibility

The Committee considered that the author had failed to substantiate his allegations with respect to a violation of article 7 and thus declared this portion of the communication inadmissible. 

Merits

The Committee recalled its general comment No. 22 (1993) on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, in which it considers that the fundamental character of the freedoms enshrined in article 18 (1). In the present case, the Committee noted that it is uncontested that the author’s refusal to perform compulsory military service derives from his religious beliefs, and on this basis found a violation of the author's rights under article 18(1) of the Covenant. 

Recommendations

Pursuant to article 2 (3) (a) of the Covenant, the State party is under an obligation to provide the author with an effective remedy. This requires it to make full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated.

Accordingly, the State party is obligated, inter alia to:

  • take appropriate steps to expunge the author’s criminal record and to provide him with adequate compensation.
  • take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future. In this connection, the Committee reiterates that, in accordance with its obligation under article 2 (2) of the Covenant, the State party should review its legislation with a view to ensuring the effective guarantee of the right to conscientious objection under article 18 (1) of the Covenant, for instance, by providing the possibility of alternative service of a civilian nature.

Implementation

The Committee requested that the state party provide an update outlining measures taken to give effect to the Committee's views within 180 days, or prior to 29 September 2019.

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