YEREVAN, May 8 (RIA Novosti) – The Armenian government on Wednesday allocated €112,000 ($145,226) to the Ministry of Justice to pay damages and legal fees to 17 conscientious objectors in compliance with a 2012 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, the government press service said.
In 2004, 17 young male Armenian Jehovah’s Witnesses began performing alternative civilian service. After a year, they refused to continue, saying they could no longer serve under the control and supervision of the military in good conscience.
The members of the international religious organization were arrested and prosecuted. Some were held in pretrial detention for several months, and 11 were eventually sentenced to prison terms from two to three years.
The European court ruled that the criminal prosecutions and detentions were illegal because in 2005, there was no law in Armenia that made it a crime to abandon alternative civilian service.
The court held that Armenia violated the men’s right to liberty and security as protected under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Although the government later dropped the criminal charges against the 17 men, Armenia refused to compensate them for the unlawful criminal prosecutions and detentions. The court therefore ordered Armenia to pay compensation for moral damages and legal fees.