European Court of Human Rights decides Bayatyan v. Armenia

November 2009 – Strasbourg

In a chamber judgment of 6 October 2009, the European Court of Human Rights issued a controversial decision on conscientious objection in the case Bayatyan v. Armenia. Commenting on the decision in a 19 November 2009 report of Forum 18 News Service, Derek Brett of Conscience and Peace Tax International asserts that the Court, “apparently unaware of the recent parallel jurisprudence under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, found no violation of the freedom of thought, conscience and religion in the imprisonment of a Jehovah’s Witness for his refusal on grounds of conscientious objection to perform military service, or the subsequent increase in the sentence, which had been partly justified by his reasons for refusal. Brett argues that it is vital that the Grand Chamber of the ECHR agrees to hear the appeal in the Bayatyan case, as it alone can overturn the precedent which this will otherwise set for future ECHR cases.”