Armenia: No progress for conscientious objectors

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The lack of progress in Armenia has been reported several times in co-update. During a visit to Armenia, Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, said in a speech at the Yerevan State University: "There are two more items on the list of areas where we would all like to see further progress: the penitentiary system and what is known as the alternative service for conscientious objectors. [...]

As for alternative service, we are neither here or there. The last amendments to the law do not seem to solve the problems raised in respect of the length of alternative service and the arrangements for performing it. As amended, the law still fails to offer conscientious objectors any "genuine alternative service of a clearly civilian nature, which should be neither deterrent nor punitive in character", as provided by the Council of Europe's guidelines on this subject. For Armenia to comply with the undertaking made on accession, the law needs to be "in compliance with European standards", and this is not yet the case."

Only a few days later, Armenian courts sentenced seven conscientious objectors to prison sentences between two and three years' imprisonment (see co-alert, 15/11/2007), while 15 others are awaiting their verdict.

Sources: Speech by Terry Davis, 5 November 2007, co-alert, 15 November 2007

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