Forthcoming ECtHR judgment: conscientious objection: Papavasilakis v Greece

On Thursday 15 September the ECtHR will hand down its judgment in Papavasilakis v Greece (no. 66899/14).

In January 2013 Mr Papavasilakis sought authorisation to carry out alternative civilian work because he was a conscientious objector. He appeared before the Greek Army’s Special Board to explain his request, referring in particular to the religious education he had received from his mother, a Jehovah’s Witness, and his rejection of war, violence or destruction in all its forms. His request was refused and he appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court, challenging, in particular, the composition of the Special Board on the day it took its decision: two of its members, university professors, had been absent and had not been replaced. The Supreme Administrative Court dismissed his case in 2014 and he was fined for insubordination. He appealed against the fine and the matter is still pending before the Mytilene Administrative Court; but the authorities have already seized a sum from his bank account.

Relying on Article 6 (right to a fair hearing), he complains that the Supreme Administrative Court did not examine his complaint fairly and that there had been a violation of Article 9 ECHR (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) because the Special Board was composed of a majority of servicemen. He also alleges that his request was not examined properly or impartially because the absence of two board members had resulted in an erroneous interpretation of his beliefs and the denial of his requested status. Under Article 9 taken together with Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association), he alleges that the rejection of his request for conscientious objector status is a breach of his negative freedom not to become a follower of a particular religion or a member of an anti-militarist organisation.

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "Forthcoming ECtHR judgment: conscientious objection: Papavasilakis v Greece" in Law & Religion UK, 10 September 2016,

3 thoughts on “Forthcoming ECtHR judgment: conscientious objection: Papavasilakis v Greece

  1. I received a “call up” registered letter myself in September 1960 after finding that I did not have the courage to resist this denial of human rights. I would not have been able to do this on the basis of religious belief since I had none – so my chances of success were slim indeed. But I could have stuck to my principles and spent time in jail.

    I am filled with admiration for this man but pity for him in his childhood indoctrination by the Jehovah’s Witness organisation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *