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Jehovah's Witness Arrested In Baku For Refusing Military Duty

Mushfiq Mammadov, a conscientious objector to military service in Azerbaijan, has been detained for refusing to perform compulsory military service.

Mammadov, who is a member of the Christian group Jehovah's Witnesses, is reportedly being held in the Kurdakhani isolation center and has not been given a lawyer.

Mammadov was once detained in 2006 and given a six-month suspended jail term on the same charges.

Although Azerbaijan's Constitution guarantees the right to alternative service, no program exists for pursuing such an option.

Mammadov was detained on August 10 and sentenced one day later, even though the Interior Ministry says it has no information about the arrest.

Human rights defenders are calling on Azerbaijani authorities to immediately release Mammadov and move torward adopting a law on alternative military service.

Azerbaijan has pledged to the Council of Europe that it will adopt such legislation. The UN Human Rights Committee has also urged that such a law be passed.

Article 76 of the Azerbaijani Constitution recognizes that those who cannot perform military service on the grounds of their conscience are to be offered alternative service.

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