Turkey in ‘serious breach’ of ECHR, rule of law by not releasing Kavala: Council of Europe

Osman Kavala © 2017 Anadolu Kültür

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has declared Turkey in “serious breach” of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and rule of law principles due to the continued detention of Osman Kavala, Turkish Minute reported.

The statement came after a review of Turkey’s compliance with European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgments on the cases of Kavala and Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş during its 1,492nd meeting held from March 12 to 14.

The committee expressed deep concern over Kavala’s nearly six-and-a-half years of detention, despite the ECtHR’s rulings calling for his immediate release. The rulings highlighted the absence of reasonable suspicion in his arrest and pretrial detention, deemed to pursue the ulterior motive of silencing him and deterring other human rights defenders. Despite previous calls for action and an infringement proceeding launched against Turkey in February 2022, Kavala remains imprisoned.

The decisions emphasized the need for Turkey to take all necessary steps to ensure Kavala and Demirtaş‘s immediate release, including exploring judicial and other means within the Turkish legal system. Additionally, the committee urged Turkey to adopt measures ensuring the judiciary’s independence and respect for parliamentary immunity, reflecting ongoing concerns about the country’s commitment to the principles of democracy and human rights.

The committee remarkably refrained from taking immediate punitive measures against Turkey. Instead, it has opted for a path that emphasizes dialogue and cooperation, despite Turkey’s continued failure to comply with ECtHR rulings calling for the immediate release of detainees.

This approach has raised concerns among observers about the effectiveness of the council’s strategy to hold member states accountable for human rights violations and for undermining the rule of law.

Critics argue that the reliance on dialogue, as reflected in the promotion of high-level technical meetings and the push for constructive engagement, may signal a lack of resolve to confront serious human rights violations.

The committee plans to resume the examination of these cases in June and September 2024.

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