For the first time since 2014, courts in Turkmenistan have again handed down prison terms on young men unable to perform compulsory military service on grounds of religious conscience. At least two conscientious objectors, both Jehovah's Witnesses, are known to have been jailed so far in 2018. For one of them this was the second conviction on the same charges. Between 2014 and 2017, the authorities punished conscientious objectors with corrective labour or suspended prison terms, rather than imprisonment. In a typical sentence, in February 2017 a court sentenced Jehovah's Witness Vepa Matyakubov to two years' corrective labour, meaning that he lives at home but 20 percent of his salary is withheld by the state budget.
In March 2017, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee again called on Turkmenistan to end punishments for conscientious objectors and introduce an alternative, civilian service. Turkmenistan has so far ignored this.
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