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Call for ‘Dialogue’ on Kavala and Demirtaş: Council of Europe Urges Implementation of ECHR Judgments

In a recent development on September 22, 2023, discussions surrounding the cases of Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş are ongoing at the Council of Europe. During a meeting held in Strasbourg, a call for ‘dialogue’ was issued. The Council reaffirmed its demand for Turkey to execute the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The Council of Europe has once again called upon Ankara to comply with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the cases of Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş.

The periodic meetings of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, responsible for overseeing the enforcement of ECHR judgments concerning Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş, took place this week in Strasbourg.

The Committee refrained from disclosing any plans for sanctions within the scope of the ‘violation procedure’ initiated against Osman Kavala last year. Instead, they chose to reiterate Turkey’s obligations under ECHR judgments, the Committee’s prior decisions based on these judgments, and Turkey’s responsibilities in light of AİHM decisions.

The Committee expressed satisfaction with the participation of Deputy Minister of Justice Niyazi Acar in the Strasbourg meeting and urged ‘all relevant Turkish authorities and national judicial bodies’ to promptly release Osman Kavala in accordance with ECHR judgments.

Additionally, the Committee reminded member states of the Council of Europe that the ‘Reykjavik Declaration,’ adopted during the Council of Europe Summit of Heads of State and Government in Iceland on May 16-17, 2023, had called for a high-level political dialogue with Council of Europe bodies to address the implementation of ECHR judgments.

In a shift away from a sanctions-oriented approach, the Committee emphasized dialogue and resolved to continue exploring other measures to achieve the most favorable implementation of ECHR judgments should Kavala remain in detention.

Before this decision, Ankara had submitted an Action Plan to Strasbourg, stating that the legal process against Kavala was ongoing in national courts and requesting that the process be allowed to conclude before any European-level decision.

Ankara also highlighted the high-level technical and political dialogue conducted with Strasbourg concerning the Kavala case. As part of this dialogue, the first meeting between a delegation of European ambassadors and Turkish authorities took place in December 2022. Moreover, the rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) visited Kavala at Silivri Prison on January 13, 2023. It was noted that the Contact Group engaged in discussions with Turkish authorities in February and April.

In a communication sent to Strasbourg on August 30, 2023, Osman Kavala’s lawyers stated that ECHR judgments had yet to be implemented. They requested that the Committee of Ministers establish the highest level of contact with Turkish authorities, demand comprehensive and accurate information from the Ministry of Justice, urgently call on the Constitutional Court to fully and promptly implement the ECHR judgments, and condemn the portrayal of Kavala as a ‘criminal’ in television series.

For Selahattin Demirtaş’s case, the Committee of Ministers similarly emphasized the importance of dialogue. They pointed out that the continued detention of Demirtaş despite ECHR judgments reinforced the belief that national authorities were not heeding the decisions of the ECHR and Committee of Ministers. The Committee reiterated its call for Demirtaş’s immediate release and called for an examination of alternative measures to detention until the conclusion of the process before the Constitutional Court.

The decision called upon member states of the Council of Europe and the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe to raise Demirtaş’s detention with Turkish authorities. In the event of no progress in the case, it was stated that the matter would be revisited during a meeting focused on ECHR judgments in Strasbourg in December 2023.

The Committee of Ministers also requested that all necessary measures be taken to ensure the ‘independence and impartiality of the Judiciary’ of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) based on the ECHR judgments pertaining to Kavala and Demirtaş.”

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