Ankara urges Council of Europe to avoid any decision against Turkey

Turkey on Thursday called on the Council of Europe to refrain from punishing it ahead of a decision this week on whether Ankara should face rare disciplinary proceedings over the case of a jailed activist, AFP reported.

“Out of respect for the ongoing judicial process, we invite the Council of Europe to avoid taking a decision which will qualify as interference with the independent judiciary,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Osman Kavala, a 64-year-old civil society leader and businessman, has languished in jail without being convicted of any crime for more than four years, based on accusations of financing anti-government protests in 2013 known as Gezi Park protests and playing a role in a 2016 coup attempt.

If convicted, he could be jailed for life without the possibility of parole.

He denies the charges and has remained in prison despite a December 2019 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which is affiliated with the Council of Europe.

The rights body’s committee of ministers, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of ECtHR judgements, met between November 30 and December 2.

The committee of ministers was considering whether to launch infringement proceedings against Turkey over the failure to release Kavala last month.

An İstanbul court ordered Kavala to stay in jail on November 26, even after his case led to a diplomatic standoff between Turkey and 10 Western embassies including the US.

There were unconfirmed reports on Thursday that the Council of Europe agreed to launch proceedings against Turkey, after which the ministry issued the strong statement.

The Council of Europe had taken on an “inconsistent approach by insisting on keeping the decision on Kavala on the agenda,” the ministry said.

“It first of all damages the Council of Europe itself that the existing mechanisms… are used against certain countries based on political concerns, not according to a legal and fair understanding,” the statement said.

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