Jehovah’s Witnesses are able to worship freely in the Republic of Armenia and carry on their religious activities without major hindrance. They obtained legal recognition in October 2004.
Until October 2013, the biggest challenge the Witnesses faced in Armenia was the lack of acceptable alternative civilian service, since Armenia’s program was under military supervision and was punitive. Since 1993, hundreds of young Witness men who were conscientious objectors to military service were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, and some endured harsh conditions. Finally, on June 8, 2013, Armenia brought its Alternative Civilian Service Law into harmony with European standards. On October 23, 2013, Armenia’s Republican Commission granted the first applications for alternative civilian service to 57 of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The program has proved successful, allowing them to serve their country while maintaining a good conscience.
Even with this significant progress, Jehovah’s Witnesses experience discrimination. Some municipalities refuse to issue permits for the construction of their houses of worship, customs officials assess exorbitant taxes on the importation of their religious literature, and opposers spread slander about them in the media and other public forums. Jehovah’s Witnesses have turned to both domestic and international courts in an effort to resolve these issues.