Final warning by Council of Europe to release political prisoners Osman Kavala, Salahaddin Demirtas

Turkey is once again in conflict with Europe, though this time the adversary is neither EU, nor European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). It is the broader pan-European institution, Council of Europe, which warned the wayward country to abide by ECHR verdicts and release two political prisoners.


The CoE statement is as follows:


Yesterday’s decision of the Istanbul 13th Assize Court to prolong the detention of Mr Osman Kavala perpetuates the violation of both his human rights and of Turkey’s obligation to abide by a final judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.


Mr Kavala has been in detention for 46 months despite a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights from December 2019 which found that the authorities had targeted him in pursuit of the ulterior purpose of reducing him to silence, and that the proceedings against him  were likely to have a dissuasive effect on the work of human rights defenders.


He remains detained despite six decisions and one interim resolution by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers defining his detention as arbitrary and strongly urging the authorities to ensure the applicant’s immediate release. Instead of releasing Mr Kavala from detention, a domestic court rendered a decision  on 2 August to merge the ongoing baseless criminal proceedings against him with another set of criminal proceedings relating to the 2013 Gezi Park protest, further undermining prospects for his release.


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He is a victim of a justice system that has been used to silence  human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists and displayed unprecedented levels of disregard for the most basic principles of law, such as the presumption of innocence, no punishment without crime and non-retroactivity of offences, or not being judged for the same facts again.


Mr Kavala should have not been in detention in the first place. His prolonged, illegal detention displays contempt for human rights and the rule of law. He must be released now.


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According to Turkish press sources, the Council of ministers of Council of Europe granted Turkey until 30 September to release former chair of the pro-Kurdish Rights party HDP, Mr Selahaddin Demirtas.


CoE is yet to take action on Turkey regarding these two cases of illegal imprisonment. However failure to comply could lead to Turkey being put on probation, as it had occurred after 1980 military coup.


While such a decision will have no material impact on the economy or foreign policy, it will further undermine Turkey’s status as a democratic nation.


Will update as commentary from CoE and Ankara reach the newsroom.


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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.