Turkey faces disciplinary action for failing to release jailed activist, Council of Europe says – POLITICO

The Council of Europe said on Friday it would take disciplinary action against Turkey if it refuses to release jailed philanthropist Osman Kavala.

The announcement follows Amnesty International’s call last month for the Council of Europe to initiate infringement proceedings after a Turkish court ruled against The liberation of Kavala.

Turkey refused to comply with a binding judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2019 which called for the immediate release of Kavala, triggering disciplinary proceedings.

This is only the second time in the history of the Council of Europe that the procedure is triggered, said a spokesperson for the organization. If Turkey does not comply with the judgment, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe should decide on sanctions against Turkey after a two-thirds vote of the committee and the approval of the ECHR.

Disciplinary proceedings have never reached this stage, the spokesperson said, “so in a way it would be uncharted territory.”

The judgment stated that Kavala’s detention was based on “acts which could not reasonably be regarded as criminalized behavior under domestic law”. Without proof of criminal activity, the ECHR ruled, “he could not reasonably be suspected of having attempted to overthrow the government by force or violence”.

Kavala was arrested in Istanbul in October 2017 on suspicion of having links to the Fethullah Gülen movement, led by a US-based Muslim preacher whom Ankara accuses of instigating a failed coup in 2016; and funding for the 2013 national anti-government protests that started at Istanbul’s Gezi Park. He is also accused of participating in the 2016 coup attempt.

The Turkish prosecution viewed these acts as an insurgency of terrorist organizations aimed at overthrowing the government.

The Council of Europe statement follows calls for his release from two MEPs involved in Turkish affairs, Nacho Sánchez Amor and Sergey Lagodinsky.

“It is now up to the Turkish courts and authorities to rise up and demonstrate political will by adhering to international commitments, democracy and the rule of law. This is the only way forward to allow EU-Turkey cooperation to deepen, including the renewal of the customs union, ”said Amor and Lagodinsky in a joint statement.

The Council of Europe – a human rights organization from 47 countries separate from the European Union – has asked Turkey to give its opinion on the case by January 19, 2022.

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