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Cyprus: small step forward as constitutional court rules on conscientious objection

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The case of Murat Kanatli, a CO in Cyprus who declared his conscientious objection in 2009 and has since refused each year to participate in the annual compulsory military exercises in the northern part of Cyprus, has been heard in the Constitutional Court.

Although the full text of the ruling has not yet been published, it appears that the Court has ruled that the unavailability of a substitute to military service constitutes an interference with the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion safeguarded in the Article 23 of the Constitution, and that the duty is upon the legislator to provide in laws and regulations for alternative service to military service. However, the Court went on to state that it does not constitute a conflict with the Constitution.

Murat will now appear again in the Military Court, where his case has been heard repeatedly since 2009.

Sources: European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, Northern part of Cyprus: Constitutional Court rules on constitutionality of conscientious objection, 11 October 2013; communication with Murat Kanatli.