Council of Europe calls for the immediate release of Demirtas and Kavala

Council of Europe calls for the immediate release of Demirtas and Kavala
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CoE Committee of Ministers has again urged Turkish authorities to immediately release Selahattin Demirtas and Osman Kavala in line with ECHR judgments.

The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers adopted a resolution on Friday strongly urging Turkish authorities to take steps to ensure that Turkey's constitutional court rules in the case of Selahattin Demirtas as soon as possible "with full regard to the findings of the European Court of Human Rights," and in the meantime to ensure Demirtas's immediate release.

Expressing "profound concern" that Demirtas has been continuously deprived of his liberty since November 2016," the Committee "deplored the absence of a decision by the Constitutional Court," a CoE media release said.

It continued:

"In addition to the specific measures needed to implement these ECHR judgments, the Committee of Ministers also called for general measures including reinforced guarantees for judicial independence from undue influence from the executive branch and all required action to strengthen political debate, pluralism and the freedom of expression of political representatives in Turkey."

In an earlier decision dated 22 September 2022, the Committee had referred to the ECHR's findings that Demirtas's detention "pursued the ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate," and noted with concern that his individual application challenging his detention has been pending before the Constitutional Court since 7 November 2019.

The Committee also expressed concern over the Turkish judiciary's non-compliance with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of incarcerated human rights defender Osman Kavala.

"The Committee of Ministers deeply deplored the fact that Osman Kavala remains in detention more than three years after the European Court's initial judgment in his case," it said, adding:

"The Committee stressed that the further and timely engagement of the Turkish authorities on this issue is essential. It also underlined the shared responsibility of all competent authorities in Turkey, including the judiciary, to eliminate the negative consequences of the criminal charges brought against Mr Kavala – in particular by ensuring that he is immediately released."

The ECHR had ruled in December 2019 that the European Convention on Human Rights was violated in the the Kavala case, and called for Kavala's immediate release.