CoE fails to sanction Turkey over jailed philanthropist, opts for ‘dialogue’ instead

Jailed businessman Osman Kavala

The Committee of Ministers, the decision-making body of the Council of Europe (CoE), has refrained from announcing a plan to impose sanctions on Turkey over the imprisonment of businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, during its meeting in Strasbourg this week, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported.

The committee is responsible for overseeing the implementation of judgments delivered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), and Turkey has been refusing to comply with a 2019 ECtHR order for Kavala’s release.

According to the report, the committee settled for reminding Turkey of its legal obligation to abide by ECtHR judgments, calling for “dialogue” with CoE bodies.

Ahead of the meeting, Ankara had communicated to Strasbourg an action plan” which stated that Kavala’s case was still being processed by the domestic justice system, asking the CoE to wait until the case is finalized before making a decision.

Behind bars since October 2017, Kavala was sentenced to aggravated life in April 2022 on charges of instigating the anti-government Gezi Park protests of 2013. The Strasbourg court had found Kavala’s detention in pursuance of an “ulterior motive.”

In July 2022 the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR confirmed that Turkey had failed to fulfill its obligations by not releasing Kavala and held that the measures taken against him were aimed at silencing him and dissuading other human rights defenders.

Turkey’s failure to implement the ECtHR judgment in the case of Kavala led to the Council of Europe launching infringement proceedings against Turkey in February 2022 due to its refusal to release him. It marked only the second instance of such a procedure being initiated against a member state. Kavala was recently nominated for the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe’s (PACE) Václav Havel Human Rights Prize.

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