The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid in the Federal Foreign Office, Bärbel Kofler, issued the following statement regarding the continued pre-trial detention of Osman Kavala in Turkey today (26 November 2021):
With today's ruling by the Istanbul court, Turkey unfortunately has failed to comply with the request of the European Court of Human Rights - a request that has been left unanswered for almost two years now - for the immediate release of Osman Kavala. I very much regret that.
The Council of Europe will decide in a few days on how to proceed in this matter. It is clear to me that this case is not just about the person of Osman Kavala, not just about Turkey, but about human rights protection in Europe as a whole. The implementation of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights is a cornerstone of the system of protection for human rights that the Council of Europe has been building up since it was founded. All of its member states, including Turkey, have committed to complying with basic human rights standards as laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights. This also includes the implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
In the interests of all people in the Council of Europe states, it is therefore important to maintain and strengthen this system.
The cultural philanthropist Osman Kavala has been in custody since October 18, 2017. On 10 December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) determined that the prolonged pre-trial detention of Osman Kavala is in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and demanded his immediate release. The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers has repeatedly called on Turkey to implement this judgment. On September 17, 2021, the Committee of Ministers' Representatives underlined its readiness to initiate infringement proceedings against Turkey if Osman Kavala is not released by its next monitoring meeting on the enforcement of ECHR judgments, which starts on November 30, 2021. The hearing on November 26th was the last court hearing before this Deadline.
On February 18, 2020, an Istanbul court acquitted Mr. Kavala of “attempted overthrow of the government” in connection with the so-called Gezi protests of 2013. However, he was arrested again on other charges. An appeals court overturned the previous acquittal on February 22, 2021. Mr. Kavala is currently on trial in the reopened Gezi case as well as on allegations of espionage. On 2 August 2021 a Turkish court decided to join these two cases with the so-called Çarşı proceedings involving other defendants. In the hearing on 8 October, all three cases were first examined together.