Council of Europe rapporteur calls for Demirtaş, Kavala’s release upon visit

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s Turkey rapporteur Stefan Schennach repeated his call to the Turkish government for the release of Selahattin Demirtaş and Osman Kavala after meetings with opposition deputies and the Kavala family in Istanbul and Ankara.

Stefan Schennach, the rapporteur for Turkey from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Duvar English

The Council of Europe’s legislative and executive bodies on June 18 repeated their calls to the Turkish government for the release of former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and businessperson Osman Kavala, following their continued detention despite European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings.

Stefan Schennach, the rapporteur for Turkey from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), reiterated the need for Turkey to comply with ECHR decisions, including those concerning Demirtaş and Kavala, during his visits to the capital province of Ankara and Istanbul from June 11-14. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe also noted last week that Kavala and Demirtaş should be released.

The Austrian politician met with Turkish officials to discuss the implementation of ECHR rulings and the continuation of high-level dialogue with the Council of Europe. He said he had the opportunity to meet with both Kavala and Demirtaş in prison, thanks to ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Tuğrul Türkeş, head of the Turkish PACE delegation.

Schennach meets with the pro-Kurdish DEM Party representatives in Ankara. 

During his meetings, Schennach reminded Turkish officials that enforcing the ECHR’s rulings is a legal obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights. He urged them to take all necessary measures to implement the rulings on Kavala and Demirtaş. He noted that Kavala had been in prison since October 2017, and the ECHR had issued two rulings for his release. Schennach also strongly condemned Demirtaş's 42-year prison sentence in the Kobanê case.

Schennach emphasized that the solution to Kavala and Demirtaş’s cases lies within the Turkish judiciary and that legal resolutions could be found for these cases, which are on the Committee of Ministers' agenda.

Schennach also discussed concerns about prison overcrowding and lengthy detention periods with representatives of civil society organizations. He said his visit was an important step for dialogue between the Council of Europe and Turkish authorities, hoping for continued cooperation to strengthen human rights protection and shared European values.

The Council of Europe initiated infringement proceedings against Turkey in early 2022 for failing to implement ECHR rulings regarding Kavala. It referred the matter to the Committee of Ministers, which noted Turkey's serious violation of its obligations under Article 46 of the ECHR. The Committee had prioritized dialogue with Turkey and delayed sanctions.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, during a press conference in Spain, stated that the judiciary had decided the cases of Kavala and Demirtaş, whom he labeled as "terrorists." The Committee of Ministers reiterated its call for their release.

The cases of Kavala and Demirtaş were also discussed at the Committee of Ministers' meetings from June 11-13, where similar calls for their release were made. The Committee emphasized Turkey's non-compliance with the ECHR’s rulings on Kavala since 2019 and 2022, noting the lack of evidence linking him to the Gezi events and the coup attempt.

The Committee highlighted that the Turkish Constitutional Court proceedings could present an important opportunity for Kavala's release, expressing concern that Kavala's application, submitted two years ago, had not yet been processed, urging the court to address it promptly.

The Committee of Ministers also reviewed the cases of Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, requesting detailed information from Turkish authorities on the rulings against the former HDP co-chairs. The Committee called for the Constitutional Court to expedite the processing of their applications without further delay.