By keeping Osman Kavala in detention, Turkey has been violating its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights for years. The member states of the Council of Europe adopted a decision to this effect with a significant majority in early December, and subsequently opened infringement proceedings.
It now falls to Turkey to prevent further steps from being taken. My attention, and that of many others who value the protection of human rights in Europe, is therefore now focused on the upcoming court hearing in Istanbul.
The arts patron Osman Kavala has been held in pretrial detention since 18 October 2017. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on 10 December 2019 that the excessively long pretrial detention of Osman Kavala is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and called for his immediate release. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has repeatedly urged Turkey to execute this ruling. On 2 December 2021, the Committee opened the first stage of infringement proceedings against Turkey with a two-thirds majority and set a deadline of 18 January 2022 for Turkey to submit a statement. The Committee is expected to decide on the next stage – reverting to the ECHR – on 2 February.
On 18 February 2020, an Istanbul court cleared Mr Kavala of “attempting to overthrow the Government” in connection with the 2013 Gezi protests. However, he was rearrested on other charges. A court of appeal overturned the previous acquittal on 22 February 2021. Mr Kavala is currently in court facing a retrial over the Gezi protests as well as accusations of espionage. On 2 August 2021 a Turkish court decided to merge both cases with the Çarşı trial, where Mr Kavala is one of a number of defendants. The first joint hearing was held on 8 October.