ECHR Condemns Turkey’s Failure to Release Activist Kavala, relations with EU on the brink

The European Court of Human Rights’ Grand Chamber ruled on Monday that Turkey has failed to fulfil its obligation under Article 46/1 to comply with the judgment delivered on December 10, 2019 to release the human rights activist and philanthropist Osman Kavala immediately, reported Balkan Insight.


Erdogan’s stubborn refusal of a philanthropist to serve as a lesson for all those who dared rise up against his authoritarian rule in 2013 Gezi Protests haunts Turkey 9 years later, as the opposition is using the unfair sentences doled out to so-called culprits to rally voters. ECHR decisions leaves little wiggling room for Council of Europe and EU to delay reviewing relations with Turkey. As economic confidence  reaches a trough in the country, individuals could run on bank to withdraw their FX deposit at the slightest negative shock. Kavala ruling is probably not that shock, but August bears watching to determine how much damage it can to Turkey’s standing with EU.


The measures indicated by Turkey “did not permit it to conclude that the State Party had acted in ‘good faith’ in a manner compatible with the ‘conclusions and spirit’ of the Kavala judgment,” the court wrote.


It added that despite three earlier decisions of the court ordering his release on bail and one acquittal judgment, Kavala has been held in pre-trial detention for more than four years.


Irish Foreign Minister and Chair of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, Simon Coveney, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, PACE, Tiny Kox, and the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, CoE, Marija Pejcinović Buric, also urged Turkey in a joint statement to follow the ECHR ruling.


Turkey’s Number #1 Political Prisoner Osman Kavala



“Turkey has failed to fulfil its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. We welcome today’s judgment, which provides a definitive answer on this point. We renew our call for the immediate release of Mr Kavala.


“We urge Türkiye, as a Party to the Convention, to take all necessary steps to implement the judgment. This matter will remain under the supervision of the Committee of Ministers until the judgment is fully implemented,” the joint statement said.


Turkey dismissed the ruling and the calls for Kavala’s release.


“The ECHR, with its decision on the subject, has failed our expectations and once again caused the reputation of the European human rights system to be questioned,” Tanju Bilgic, the spokesperson of Turkish Foreign Ministry, said in a statement.


A former board member of the Open Society Foundations in Turkey, Kavala has been in prison since 2017. In April, A Turkish court sentenced Turkish philanthropist and human rights activist Kavala to life in prison for attempting to overthrow the government by financing the 2013 Gezi Park protests.


The Committee of Ministers of the CoE has repeatedly pushed Turkey to release Kavala and other political prisoners, giving Ankara several deadlines to comply before imposing sanctions.


The government has ignored calls from the opposition in Turkey, the CoE, the EU and international rights groups to release Kavala.


In February, the Committee of Ministers of the CoE finally started an infringement process against Turkey. After today’s judgement, Turkey stands to lose its voting rights on the CoE and even would lose its membership.


CoE measures could reverberate in EU, which doesn’t look too kindly on member or candidate nations ignoring ECHR rulings.  Already on shaky ground with EU on account of Greek accusations of  supposed naval aggression in the Aegean, Ankara ought to raise her shields to fend off a new campaign in Brussels and the European Parliament to  downgrade relations.


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.