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February 21
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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) released two new judgments on January 10 protecting the right of conscientious objectors in the cases of Bukharatyan v. Armenia and Tsaturyan v. Armenia, both involving Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The two applicants, Hayk Bukharatyan and Ashot Tsaturyan, were sentenced in 2003 to two years of imprisonment by Armenian authorities for refusal to participate in military service.

Mr. Bukharatyan and Mr. Tsaturyan appealed their cases to the ECHR, stating that their rights were violated under Article 9 of the European Convention, the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization informed Armenian News-NEWS.am.

According to the organization, to date Armenian authorities continue to ignore the ECHR directives and have recently imprisoned five more conscientious objectors.

Armenian law on alternative civilian service allows seeking alternative service for those who refuse to join the army for religious reasons. However, young people, members of religious organizations, often refuse to enlist for alternative civilian service saying it is controlled by the Defense Ministry.

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