Case of X. v. Germany (Application no. 7705/76)

Case of X. v. Germany (Application no. 7705/76)

A Jehovah’s Witness and recognised as a conscientious objector by the competent authorities, the applicant refused to comply with a call-up for substitute civilian service. He was convicted of avoiding service and sentenced to four months in prison, but was granted a stay of execution to negotiate for a service agreement to do social work in a hospital or other institution, which would exempt him from civilian service. As he was unable to arrange for such an agreement, his sentence was enforced in December 1976. The applicant complained of the revocation of the stay of execution, relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment), Article 7 (no punishment without law) and Article 9.
The Commission declared the case inadmissible. It found in particular that since Article 4 § 3(b) expressly recognised that conscientious objectors might be required to perform civilian service in substitution for compulsory military service, it had to be inferred that Article 9 did not imply a right to be exempted from substitute civilian service. With regard to the complaint under Article 7, the Commission underlined that it was for the national legislator to define the offences that may be penalised and found that the Convention did not prevent a state from imposing sanctions on those who refused to perform civilian service. Further, taking into consideration the length of the applicant’s sentence, its deferment and his conditional release, the Commission found no convincing argument in support of his allegations of a violation of Article 3.

Recognition of CO Not recognised