Turkey calls on Council of Europe to avoid punishment over Kavala case

European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg

European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg. [Katrinitsa/Flickr]

Turkey on Thursday (2 December) called on the Council of Europe to avoid punishing Turkey ahead of a decision this week on whether Ankara could face rare disciplinary proceedings over the case of jailed activist Osman Kavala.

“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 for more than four years, accused of financing 2013 anti-government protests and playing a role in the 2016 coup attempt.

He denies the charges and has remained in prison despite a December 2019 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which comes under the Council of Europe.

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

The committee of ministers has this week considered whether to launch infringement proceedings against Turkey over the failure to release Kavala last month.

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

Turkey holds first Kavala hearing after row with Western allies

A Turkish court on Friday (26 November) will hold the latest hearing in the trial of philanthropist businessman Osman Kavala, whose case provoked a diplomatic tussle between Ankara and its Western allies after they called for his immediate release.

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,” it said.

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