ICCPR Case Digest

CCPR/C/126/D/2302/2013

Submission: 2013.08.28

View Adopted: 2019.07.25

Juma Nazarov et al. v. Turkmenistan

Violation of the right to conscientious objection to military service in Turkmenistan

Substantive Issues
  • Conscientious objection to military service
  • Freedom of conscience
  • Torture / ill-treatment
Relevant Articles
  • Article 18.1
  • Article 7
Full Text

Facts

The authors are three nationals of Turkmenistan, who claim that the state party violated their rights under articles 7 and 18 (1) of the Covenant. The authors are Jehovah's Witnesses, who all claimed that they were summoned by the Military Commissariat to enlist for military service, which is against their personal principles in accordance with the religion.

Following their refusal to take part in military service, each author was sentenced to a period of imprisonment.

Complaint

The authors complained that their imprisonment has subjected them to inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of article 7 of the Covenant, and further that their imprisonment for conscientious objection to military service is of itself in violation of this article. All three authors claim that their prosecution and conviction for refusing to perform compulsory military service owing to their religious beliefs and conscientious objection have violated their rights under article 18(1) of the Covenant.

Admissibility

The Committee found that the authors had failed to substantiate their claim with respect to a violation of article 7 (inhuman or degrading treatment) and declared this section of the communication inadmissible.

Merits

The Comittee found that by forcing the authors to engage in military service or face imprisonment, presented a violation of the freedoms enshrined in article 18 of the Covenant, which cannot be derogated from even in times of emergency on the basis that the alternative to miliary service cannot be punitive in nature.

Recommendations

Pursuant to article 2(3) (a) of the Covenant, the State party is under an obligation to provide the authors with an effective remedy, including making full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. Accordingly, the State party is obligated to:

  • take appropriate steps to expunge their criminal records and to provide them with adequate compensation.
  • 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 exemption from service or alternative service of a civilian nature.
  • take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.
  • publish the present views of the Committee in the official language of the state party.

Separate Opinions

Individual opinion (partly dissenting) of Committee member Hélène Tigroudja

  • Committee member Hélène Tigroudja decided not to join the majority on the basis that she could not support the decision to find the complaint in relation to article 7 inadmissible. Member Tigroudja considered this to be at odds with well-established jurisprudence concerning the same types of allegations towards the same state party.
    • For instance, Committee member Hélène Tigroudja refers to Nasyrlayev v. Turkmenistan whereby the Committee found a violation of articles 7, 10, 14 and 18 in similar circumstances, as well as Uchetov v. Turkmenistan where the Committee found a violation of 7, 10 and 18 respectively.
  • Member Tigroudja argued that the Committee should have found the claim admissible and further found a violation of article 7, on the basis that the author was subjected to such conditions in the labour camp, including severe weather conditions, and a failure to be separated from inmates who had fallen ill.

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 25 January 2020.

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