The European Court of Human Rights, sitting as a Chamber delivered its judgment regarding the case of “Adyan and Others v. Armenia” (application no. 75604/11) and held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience, and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned four Jehovah’s Witnesses who were convicted in 2011 for refusing to perform either military or alternative civilian service because of their religious beliefs. Before both the local authorities and the courts, they argued that, even though domestic law did provide for an alternative to military service, it was not of a genuinely civilian nature, as it was supervised by the military authorities.
The Court found that the Armenian authorities had failed at the relevant time to make appropriate allowances for the applicants’ conscience and beliefs and to guarantee a system of alternative service that had struck a fair balance between the interests of society as a whole and those of the applicants.
The Court held that Armenia was to pay the applicants 12,000 euros (EUR) each for non-pecuniary damage.