Turkish military court recognizes conscientious objection for the first time
Hürriyet photoA Turkish military court has taken the unprecedented decision to recognize the right to conscientious objection through a reference to a European court decision, CNNTürk reported today.
The ruling was the first time a Turkish court has ever stated something positive about conscientious objection, said Tayfun Çakır, the lawyer for conscientious objector Muhammed Serdar Delice, adding that the decision by a military court in Malatya "could set a precedent for the cases of all other conscientious objectors in Turkey."
Delice had deserted from the army in November due to "national and religious" reasons and subsequently declared his conscientious objection.
The court stated in its ruling on March 7 that they did not find it convincing that Delice had declared his conscientious objection "because he was a nationalist and a religious person." The court refused to acknowledge Delice's conscientious objection, saying he served in the army for five months and that he "deserted due to psychological and financial problems."
The court, however, stated that the right to conscientious objection should be taken into consideration with reference to a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that evaluates conscientious objection within the realm of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.
The statement further said that the European court ruling could be implemented in domestic law under Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution, which covers the freedom of religion, conscience and thought.
Delice was arrested in November and was facing 10 months in prison for desertion, but the court decided to release Delice, considering "the time spent under arrest and the reinstitution of military discipline."