GREECE: ECHR judgement highlighting the urgent need for legislative reform on conscientious objection

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in favour of Leonidas Papavasilakis, a conscientious objector who the Greek government refused to recognise, in its Chamber judgement on 15th September 2016.

The court found that the authorities had violated article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights (which provides a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion).

Commenting on the decision, the president of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) Friedhelm Schneider said “In less than a year three different international human rights instruments have pointed out serious violations of human rights of conscientious objectors in Greece. This highlights Greece’s urgent need for legislative reform on conscientious objection, in order to comply with international human rights law and standards.”

In Greece, the group that decides whether you are recognised as a conscientious objector is made up primarily of people in the armed forces, and the final decision is made by the Minister of 'Defence'. The Court found that this was a failure in their duty even to follow domestic law.

See ECHR's press release here: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/app/conversion/pdf 

See EBCO's press release here: http://ebco-beoc.org/node/408

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