Marija Pejcinovic Buric, the head of the Council of Europe, Europe's leading human rights organization, has said that Turkey's refusal to release renowned activist is “utterly wrong.”
Addressing a hybrid session of the Parliamentary Assembly on Jan. 25, she said that compliance by member states with rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was not a “kind request,” but a “binding legal requirement.”
Buric recalled that the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, tasked with monitoring the implementation of ECHR judgments, has been regularly monitoring the Kavala case and the Committee had urged Turkey to release the renowned activist from jail in an interim resolution adopted on Dec. 3, 2020.
Kavala was first detained in October 2017, remanded in pre-trial detention on Nov. 1, 2017 and has been behind bars ever since. In February 2020, he was acquitted of all charges in the Gezi trial. In October 2020, a new prosecution accusing him of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and espionage was accepted by an Istanbul court.
In 2019, the ECHR found that Kavala’s extended detention had an “ulterior purpose, namely to reduce him to silence as an NGO activist and human rights defender, to dissuade other persons from engaging in such activities and to paralyze civil society in the country” and violated the European Convention on Human Rights, a ruling which was confirmed in May 2020.