Washington, D.C.: Today, Freedom Now filed a petition on behalf of jailed Jehovah’s Witnesses Juma Nazarov, Navruz Nasyrlaev, Zafar Abdullaev, and Mahmud Hudaybergenov, with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Freedom Now is seeking an opinion from the Working Group that the Turkmen government’s detention of Messrs. Nazarov, Nasyrlaev, Abdullaev, and Hudaybergenov is in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Messrs. Nazarov, Nasyrlaev, Abdullaev, and Hudaybergenov are all conscientious objectors sentenced to between 18 months and 2 years in prison for refusing Turkmenistan’s compulsory military conscription on the grounds of their Jehovah’s Witness faith. Each of them has been prosecuted under Article 219(1) of the Turkmen Criminal Code, which punishes refusal to perform military service. The law provides no exemption for conscientious objection and no option for alternative civilian service, a violation of international law. Refusal of military service on the grounds of faith is an internationally recognized component of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

The government also failed to observe minimum international standards of due process. Both Messrs. Nasyrlaev and Abdullaev have now been convicted twice under Article 219(1) for their consistent resolve to adhere to their faith and refuse military service. Multiple convictions of this kind violate the international principle of ne bis in idem, or double jeopardy.

A copy of the full petition can be found at the link below.