Council of Europe may impose sanctions on Turkey over failure to release Osman Kavala
The case of Turkish entrepreneur Osman Kavala, who has remained imprisoned despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights calling for his immediate release, has become further entangled after Turkey’s top court upheld his aggravated life sentence.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is imposing sanctions on Turkey for its refusal to release Kavala, who was convicted as part of the Gezi Park trial. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has called for Magnitsky Act penalties to be imposed on all officials blocking Kavala’s release, as reported by Kronos.
In consecutive sessions, the Committee of Ministers started violation procedures against Turkey. The Council of Europe’s next steps are being closely watched.
On Thursday, PACE will hold an emergency debate on “Call for the immediate release of Osman Kavala.” A draft report prepared for the meeting was leaked online, calling for the Council of Europe and all EU member states to sanction officials preventing Kavala’s release under Magnitsky laws.
“Apply Magnitsky laws and other legal instruments to impose sanctions against all those who handle the unlawful deprivation of liberty of Mr. Kavala and other political prisoners, including police officers, prosecutors, judges, and prison officials,” the report stated.
It called on the Council of Europe and EU member and observer states to “actively promote the rule of law and human rights protections in Turkey,” “put pressure on the Turkish authorities to release Mr. Kavala as soon as possible,” and “call on the authorities involved in the unjust imprisonment of Kavala and other political prisoners to use the ‘Magnitsky laws’ or other tools to impose sanctions.”
The report emphasized that “the Assembly should note this grave situation when determining the European Union’s financial help to Turkey” while underlining “the importance of focusing on supportive projects.” It stated that if Kavala is not released by January 1, 2024, the Assembly would “emphasize its authority to question the credentials of the Turkish delegation” in 2024.
The Global Magnitsky Act allows the U.S. to sanction individuals and organizations worldwide for human rights abuses and corruption. It is named for Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian tax auditor who exposed corruption and died suspiciously in custody in 2009.
Following Magnitsky’s death, the U.S. and European countries accused Russia of failing to investigate appropriately and demanded punishment for officials involved. The Magnitsky Act, adopted in the U.S. in 2012, enables sanctions like asset seizures, travel bans, and business restrictions on those accused of rights violations.