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Buldu and Others v. Turkey, No. 14017/08, ECtHR (Second Section), 3 September 2014


Freedom of conscience and impossibility of an alternative to military service in Turkey. 

Normative references

Art. 9 ECHR 
Art. 6 ECHR
Art. 3 ECHR  


The impossibility of performing an alternative civilian service breaches Art. 9 ECHR. In particular, conscientious objectors have no option but to face a sort of “civil death”, being subject to a set of criminal proceedings, brought against them, for the rest of their lives.  
(Mr Buldu and the other applicants were Jehovah’s Witnesses and opposed to the military service on religious grounds) 


In addition, the Court found a violation of Art. 6 ECHR, since the applicant had to appear before a Court composed of military judges only. 
Moreover, the set of criminal convictions and their cumulative nature had the effect of repressing the intellectual personality of the applicant. It is severe enough to identify in this an inhuman and degrading character. The Court found a breach of Art. 3 ECHR.