Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief,
Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received
Communication sent on 17 July 2007
250. The Special Rapporteur brought to the attention of the Government information she had received concerning Mr. Nuryagdy Gayyrov and Mr. Bayram Ashirgeldyyev who were reportedly arrested on 14 June 2007 in Turkmenistan for refusing to perform compulsory military service on grounds of religious conscience. Both are Jehovah’s Witnesses and were reportedly charged with “evasion of call-up to military service” in violation of article 219, part 1 of the Turkmenistan Criminal Code and are believed to be detained in pre-trial detention in Ashgabat. Mr. Gayyrov was jailed in 1999 for one year for the same offence. It is the Special Rapporteur’s understanding that the cell where they are currently detained is very crowded with 20-30 others and is also very hot and lacking in ventilation. It is reported that Mr. Gayyrov and Mr. Ashirgeldyyev have been unable to meet with either their defence lawyers or family members.
251. The Special Rapporteur regrets that she has not received a reply from the Government concerning the above mentioned allegation. She would like to refer to Resolution 1998/77 of the Commission on Human Rights, which draws attention to the right of everyone to have conscientious objections to military service. The Human Rights Committee recently observed “that while the right to manifest one’s religion or belief does not as such imply the right to refuse all obligations imposed by law, it provides certain protection, consistent with article 18, paragraph 3, against being forced to act against genuinely-held religious belief” (CCPR/C/88/D/1321-1322/2004, para. 8.3). In line with the Human Rights Committee’s General Comment No. 22, there shall be no differentiation among conscientious objectors on the basis of the nature of their particular beliefs when the right to conscientious objection is recognized by law or practice; likewise, there shall be no discrimination against conscientious objectors because they have failed to perform military service.