Council of Europe reiterates call for the release of former HDP co-chairs

Council of Europe reiterates call for the release of former HDP co-chairs
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CoE Committee of Ministers announced that further steps will be considered if Demirtas continues to be denied release by Turkish authorities, and stated that ECHR's rulings in Demirtas case are applicable in Yuksekdag's case.

The Council of Europe (CoE) Committee of Ministers on Wednesday called for the immediate release of imprisoned former co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

Former co-chairs Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas have been incarcerated since November 2016 and Demirtas has been denied release despite a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Noting that the ECHR earlier ruled that Demirtas "was detained in the absence of evidence to support a reasonable suspicion he had committed an offence," that his arrest and pre-trial detention "pursued an ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate," and that he was "penalised for political speeches," the Ministers' deputies stated that the court's conclusions were also applicable in the case of Yuksekdag.

The deputies expressed deepest regret that the Constitutional Court has still not delivered its decision on the current detention of Demirtas and urged the authorities "to ensure the applicant's immediate release by exploring alternative measures to detention pending the completion of the proceedings before the Constitutional Court."

They also announced that they decided "to consider further steps if the situation of the applicant remains the same by the Committee's next examination of the case."

The Committee of Ministers will resume consideration of both cases in September.