Case of Bukharatyan v. Armenia (Application no. 37819/03)

Case of Bukharatyan v. Armenia (Application no. 37819/03)

The applicant is a Jehovah’s Witness. From 1993 he attended various Jehovah’s Witnesses religious services and was baptised on 26 June 1994 at the age of 13. (…)
In September 1998, when the applicant turned 18, he advised the military commissariat by letter that he refused to serve in the military because of his religious beliefs. At that time, he also left home being afraid that he would be taken to the military by force.(...)
The Court notes that it has already examined a similar complaint in the case of Bayatyan v. Armenia and concluded that the imposition of a penalty on the applicant, in circumstances where no allowances were made for the exigencies of his conscience and beliefs, could not be considered a measure necessary in a democratic society (see Bayatyan, cited above, §§ 124-125). In the present case, the applicant was similarly a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses who sought to be exempted from military service not for reasons of personal benefit or convenience but on the ground of his genuinely held religious convictions and the only reason why he was not able to do so and incurred criminal sanctions was the absence of such an opportunity.

Length/terms of service Recognised