Case of Ülke v. Turkey (Application no. 39437/98)

Case of Ülke v. Turkey (Application no. 39437/98)

Mr Ülke refused to do his military service, on the ground that he had firm pacifist beliefs, and publicly burned his call-up papers at a press conference. He was initially convicted of inciting conscripts to evade military service and, having been transferred to a military regiment, repeatedly convicted for his refusals to wear a military uniform. He served almost two years in prison and later hid from the authorities.
The Court found a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment), holding in particular that the applicable legal framework did not provide an appropriate means of dealing with situations arising from the refusal to perform military service on account of one’s beliefs. Because of the nature of the legislation Mr Ülke ran the risk of an interminable series of prosecutions and criminal convictions. The constant alternation between prosecutions and terms of imprisonment, together with the possibility that he would be liable to prosecution for the rest of his life, had been disproportionate to the aim of ensuring that he did his military service.

Repeated punishment Recognised