Rights organizations call on Council of Europe to trigger infringement proceedings against Turkey

Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists and Turkey Litigation Support Project have called on the Council of Europe (CoE) Committee of Ministers to trigger infringement proceedings against Turkey at its upcoming meeting for Ankara’s failure to implement a European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) judgment ordering the release of jailed human rights defender Osman Kavala.

The three nongovernmental organizations made the recommendation in a submission to the committee providing a full update on the latest developments in the ongoing legal proceedings against Kavala.

Kavala has been in jail since his arrest in 2017, facing myriad shifting charges linked to protests in 2013 and a 2016 attempted coup. He remains behind bars despite six decisions and one interim resolution by the CoE Committee of Ministers. The ECtHR ruled in December 2019 that the prolonged pre-trial detention of Kavala was in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and demanded his immediate release.

The three organizations, along with Article 19 and the International Federation for Human Rights, have also made a submission to the Committee of Ministers on developments in the case of Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, calling on the committee to urge the Turkish government to ensure his immediate release.

Demirtaş, who was the co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) when he was arrested in November 2016, has been behind bars since then despite a decision from the ECtHR in November 2018 that ruled Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention was a political act and ordered his release.

“The Turkish courts and prosecutors have engaged in a series of tactics to circumvent the authority of the ECtHR and the Council of Europe,” said the rights organizations in their statement.

“The Committee of Ministers should take note of the Turkish authorities’ repeated tactics in the Kavala and Demirtaş cases aimed at ensuring the prolongation of their unlawful detention and circumventing the authority of the European Court,” said Ayşe Bingöl Demir of the Turkey Litigation Support Project.

The rights groups’ statement came ahead of the committee’s meeting. The CoE Committee of Ministers is holding its quarterly meeting to oversee the execution of judgments and decisions from the ECtHR in Strasbourg September 14-16. Under Article 46 of the human rights convention, judgments from the ECtHR are binding on the states concerned.

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