Türkiye required to release and acquit Osman Kavala immediately
11 July 2022
Today, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the infringement proceedings in the case of Kavala v. Türkiye, finding that Turkey had failed to comply with the Court’s 2019 judgment in which it ordered Osman Kavala’s immediate release. Concluding that the Turkish authorities had not acted in good faith, the Court found a violation of Article 46(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights (for only the second time in its history).
The Court’s first judgment (10 December 2019) ordered Mr Kavala’s release from detention because the Court found that there was no evidence to detain him. It also concluded that in prosecuting Mr Kavala, the Turkish authorities had pursued the ulterior purpose of seeking to silence him as a human rights defender.
As the infringement proceedings were underway, Mr. Kavala was convicted on 25 April 2022 by the 13th Assize Court in Istanbul under Article 312 of the Criminal Code (attempt to overthrow the government) in relation to Gezi events and sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment. However, the European Court reiterated that its previous judgment (finding a violation of Article 18 taken together with Article 5) had vitiated any action resulting from the charges related to the Gezi Park events and the attempted coup. In its judgment today, the Court has had the final word by determining definitively that Türkiye has failed to execute the previous judgment by continuously detaining Mr Kavala and convicting him on the basis of the same evidence which the European Court has found does not even justify his detention.
The Turkish Constitutional (Court which is currently reviewing the continuing detention of Mr Kavala), the 13th Assize Istanbul Court (which ordered Mr. Kavala’s detention) and the regional appeal court (which will shortly review the conviction decision) all have a clear constitutional obligation to give full effect to this judgment.
Press Release issued by the Legal Representatives of Mr. Osman Kavala
Professor Başak Çalı
Hertie School, Berlin
Professor Philip Leach
Middlesex University, London
Initiated on 2 February 2022 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, this is only the second ever infringement proceedings judgment in the history of the Court.
Mr Kavala has been accused, released and re-accused of different offences at different times throughout his detention. Initially, he was accused of attempting to overthrow the Government (Article 312 of the Turkish Criminal Code) and attempting to overthrow the constitutional order (Article 309 of the Turkish Criminal Code). These charges were mounted against him with reference to mass social gatherings and protests across Turkey (known as the Gezi events) which occurred from 27 May 2013 until early July 2013, and the attempted coup of 15 July 2016.
The Grand Chamber judgment is binding immediately - both under Article 46 ECHR and in accordance with Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution (and the caselaw of the Turkish Constitutional Court).
A more detailed explanatory note on the case is available here: An Explanatory Note on the Case of Osman Kavala v Turkey - Solidarity with Osman Kavala