UN Rapporteur: "Turkey's disregard for ECHR decisions is an attack on human rights mechanism”
A UN Rapporteur said on Monday that Turkey's non-compliance with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of human rights defender Osman Kavala may have far reaching consequences.
Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said:
“This month marks five years since Osman Kavala was arrested and Turkey has now twice ignored binding rulings of the highest human rights court in Europe for his release (...) Turkey's continued disregard for the court’s decision is a dangerous attack on the regional human rights mechanism.”
The ECHR had ruled in December 2019 that the European Convention on Human Rights was violated in the Kavala case, and called for Kavala’s immediate release. The court concluded that Kavala’s arrest was based on political motives, without any reasonable evidence backing the charges.
The case was referred back to the ECHR after a review by the The Council of Europe’s (CoE) Committee of Ministers, and the court stated its final judgment in mid July, ruling for Kavala’s release. To date, Kavala has not been released.
"Decisions of the ECHR are final and binding over all Turkish courts. The decision to not abide by its ruling is a decision to reject the very human rights instruments that Türkiye has signed and committed itself to,” Lawlor said.
Kavala has been incarcerated in Turkey since October 2017.
On 18 February 2020 he was acquitted of the charge of "attempting to overthrow the Government through force and violence" in the context of 2013 Gezi Park protests.
However, the decision to release him on bail, delivered on the same date, did not lead to his release. He was placed in police custody, then on the following day he was placed in pretrial detention over an accusation of "attempting to overthrow the constitutional order" in the context of the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016.
His release was ordered on 20 March 2020, but in the meantime, on 9 March 2020, he was placed in pretrial detention for "military or political espionage."
On 25 April 2022 an Istanbul court found Kavala guilty of attempting to overthrow the Government through force and violence, and sentenced him to aggravated life imprisonment.