Case of Bayatyan v. Armenia (Application no. 23459/03)

Case of Bayatyan v. Armenia (Application no. 23459/03)

A Jehovah’s Witness, Mr Bayatyan refused to perform military service for conscientious reasons when he became eligible for the draft in 2001, but was prepared to do alternative civil service. The authorities informed him that since there was no law in Armenia on alternative service, he was obliged to serve in the army. He was convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to prison. Mr Bayatyan complained that his conviction violated his rights under Article 9 and submitted that the Article should be interpreted in the light of present-day conditions, namely the fact that the majority of Council of Europe Member States had recognised the right of conscientious objection.

The Court found a violation of Article 9, taking into account that there existed effective alternatives capable of accommodating the competing interests involved in the overwhelming majority of European States and that Mr Bayatyan’s conviction had happened at a time when Armenia had already pledged to introduce alternative service.

Recognition of CO Recognised