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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