Northern part of Cyprus
The proposed constitutional changes regarding Conscientious Objection but also other subjects which were going to be put to a referendum were rejected by right-wing party DP and UBP. They were essentially a replica of the constitution of the Republic of Turkey. In the end all of the amendments regarding Conscientious Objection were removed from the package put forward for a vote on 29th June 2014. The proposed package of constitutional amendments (in which Conscientious Objection was not included) was rejected with a 62% vote.
The application for appeal against the decision for Murat Kanatli’s 2009 case was accepted on 15th April. The case was heard on 24th June 2014 and the decision was read out on 9th October. The appeal was not against the sentence given to Murat Kanatli but against the content of the decision.
The Constitutional Court accepts Conscientious Objection for everybody, however the Military Court accepts Conscientious Objection only on religious grounds. Mainly the appeal was based on this and similar facts.
The Military High Court has been notified and received all the European Court of Human Right’s decisions on the subject of Conscientious Objection. It has stated that although Conscientious Objection may be a human right, our law and the European Convention of Human Rights are at the same level, so there is nothing to be done by the Military High Court. It is up to the Parliament to act on this and prepare and pass a law for Conscientious Objection.
The decision of the appeal went further to say that even if there was a law, Murat Kanatli is not a Conscientious Objector as he has already served in the army. The Military High Court has now rejected this appeal. (Just a note for EBCO: So would that mean that they accept that Murat Kanatli is a Conscientious Objector?)
Another small detail regarding the Military High Court and Constitutional Court decision: In Article 4 of the Military Law there is a clause to create an exemption for serving in the army for disabled people, the police, etc. It could be a possibility to add Conscientious Objection in that Article of the law. But as it involves the Military Law, Murat Kanatli would not like to push for such an amendment.
The process has finished at the Military High Court and there are still the cases of Murat Kanatli for 2010 and 2011 and that of Haluk Selam Tufanli at the Military Court and these 3 cases are in parallel with one another. The date for the Military Court is 30th October 2014.
It is now the time to take the case and start a procedure at the European Court of Human Rights.
At the same time alternative ways will also be discussed to transfer this issue back to the Constitutional Court for some other reason. This might be a way to gain more time for the ECHR by asking for a Fair Trial, as there is no structure.
Alternatively, the system will be challenged again by rejecting the sentencing for the 2010 and 2011 case and go to prison again. As it takes a long time to change a law, it is probable that another prison sentence will be served by Murat Kanatli.
Up to now there are 14 declared Conscientious Objectors. Apart from Murat Kanatli and Haluk Selam Tufanli, nobody else has been called to the police regarding not going to their reservist service.
Republic of Cyprus
The reservist who has applied for Conscientious Objection and alternative civilian reservist service has received a reply that he has been accepted as a CO but so far he has not been called up for alternative civilian reservist service although few months have already passed.
It has come to our knowledge that there is a young soldier who would like to apply for Conscientious Objection status and to change the rest of his military service to alternative civilian service. This was because of what he has been experiencing in the first few months of his military service. The military authorities have tried to discourage him, but he was firm in his decision to make the application.
Two Conscientious Objectors (Jehova’s Witnesses) are serving their 33 month alternative civilian service at the state hospital where Gina works, in the records department.