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ECtHR / Application no. 23459/03 / Judgement

Bayatyan v Armenia

Deciding Body type:
European Court of Human Rights
Deciding Body:
European Court of Human Rights (Grand Chamber)
Decision date:
Key facts of the case:
  1. The case originated in an application (no. 23459/03) against the Republic of Armenia lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by an Armenian national, Mr Vahan Bayatyan (“the applicant”), on 22 July 2003.
  2. The applicant was represented by Mr J.M. Burns, a lawyer practising in Georgetown (Canada), Mr A. Carbonneau, a lawyer practising in Patterson (USA), Mr R. Khachatryan, a lawyer practising in Yerevan, and Mr P. Muzny, professor of law at the Universities of Savoy and Geneva. The Armenian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr G. Kostanyan, Representative of the Republic of Armenia at the European Court of Human Rights.
  3. The applicant alleged, inter alia, that his conviction for refusal to serve in the army had violated his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
  4. The application was allocated to the Third Section of the Court (Rule 52 § 1 of the Rules of Court). On 12 December 2006 it was declared partly admissible by a Chamber of that Section composed of the following judges: Boštjan M. Zupančič, President, John Hedigan, Corneliu Bîrsan, Vladimiro Zagrebelsky, Alvina Gyulumyan, David Thór Björgvinsson, Isabelle Berro-Lefèvre, judges, and also of Vincent Berger, Section Registrar. On 27 October 2009 a Chamber of that Section, composed of the following judges: Josep Casadevall, President, Elisabet Fura, Corneliu Bîrsan, Boštjan M. Zupančič, Alvina Gyulumyan, Egbert Myjer, Ann Power, judges, and also of Stanley Naismith, Deputy Section Registrar, delivered a judgment in which it held by six votes to one that there had been no violation of Article 9 of the Convention. Judge Fura expressed a concurring opinion and judge Power expressed a dissenting opinion, which were annexed to the judgment.
  5. On 10 May 2010, following a request by the applicant dated 25 January 2010, the panel of the Grand Chamber decided to refer the case to the Grand Chamber under Article 43 of the Convention.
  6. The composition of the Grand Chamber was determined according to the provisions of Article 26 §§ 4 and 5 of the Convention and Rule 24 of the Rules of Court.
  7. The applicant and the Government each filed written observations. In addition, third-party comments were received from Amnesty International, Conscience and Peace Tax International, Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quakers), International Commission of Jurists, and War Resisters’ International jointly, and from the European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses, which had been given leave by the President to intervene in the written procedure (Article 36 § 2 of the Convention and Rule 44 § 3).
  8. A hearing took place in public in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, on 24 November 2010 (Rule 59 § 3).

Results (sanctions) and key consequences or implications of the case:

The Court
  1. Holds, by sixteen votes to one, that there has been a violation of Article 9 of the Convention;
  2. Holds, by sixteen votes to one,
(a)  that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months, the following amounts, to be converted into Armenian drams at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i)  EUR 10,000 (ten thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii)  EUR 10,000 (ten thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, in respect of costs and expenses;
(b)  that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
  1. Dismisses unanimously the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.