Case of Feti Demirtaş v. Turkey (Application no. 5260/07)

Case of Feti Demirtaş v. Turkey (Application no. 5260/07)

The objections of the applicant, a Jehovah’s Witness, to serving in the armed forces had been motivated by genuinely held religious beliefs that had been in serious and insurmountable conflict with his obligation to perform military service. There had been interference with the applicant’s right to manifest his religion or beliefs, stemming from his multiple criminal convictions and from the failure to propose any form of alternative civilian service. It was apparent that the system of compulsory military service in force in Turkey did not strike a fair balance between the interests of society as a whole and those of conscientious objectors. Accordingly, the penalties imposed on the applicant, in circumstances where no allowances had been made for the exigencies of his conscience and beliefs, could not be considered a measure necessary in a democratic society. Lastly, the fact that the applicant had been demobilised did nothing to alter the findings outlined above. Although he faced no further risk of prosecution (in theory, he could have faced proceedings for the rest of his life), he had been demobilised only because of the onset during his military service of a psychological disorder. This further demonstrated the seriousness of the interference complained of.
Violation of articles 3, 6 para 1, and 9.

Recognition of CO Recognised
Repeated punishment Recognised