The Committee of Ministers, the executive organ of the Council of Europe (CoE), on Feb. 2 voted on the transfer of the Osman Kavala case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). With this ruling, the infringement procedure against Turkey has officially started.
Accordingly, the ECHR will establish whether Turkey has violated the European Convention on Human Rights. If the court rules that Turkey has not fulfilled its obligations by international laws, then the Committee of Ministers will decide on the sanctions to be implemented against the country.
Turkey is a founding member of the council and could lose its veto and voting rights at the end of the infringement procedure.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement, describing the Committee's decision as an "intervention against the independent judiciary process" in Turkey.
"The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe today (February 2) adopted an interim decision regarding the referral of the Kavala case to the ECHR by a majority of votes. Thus, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe continued its approach of interfering with the ongoing independent judicial process in our country and violated the principle of respect for the judicial process," the ministry said in a written statement.
The Committee in December asked Ankara to submit its view on the case by Jan. 19, 2022. In its answer, Turkey did not change its stance, saying that Kavala's imprisonment was extended due to other charges levied against him.
Kavala was arrested in 2017 on charges that he helped to plan the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Turkey. He was cleared of these charges in February 2020 but immediately arrested on charges that he orchestrated the July 2016 coup attempt. Kavala has been held in pre-trial detention for over four years without a conviction.
In 2019, the ECHR said Kavala's ongoing imprisonment was political and called on Turkey to free him.