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ECtHR prioritizes second case on continuing, new violations of Kavala’s rights

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has granted priority status to a second case lodged by businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been detained since October 2017, publishing details of continuing and new violations of his rights.

Kavala, 66, faces charges that have ranged from espionage and financing anti-government protests in 2013 to taking part in a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016.

He was arrested in 2017 and sentenced to life in prison in 2022 for allegedly trying to topple Erdoğan’s government by organizing the Gezi Park protests, which erupted in the summer of 2013 in opposition to government plans to destroy a park in central İstanbul.

Kavala’s lawyers, Professor Başak Çalı and Professor Philip Leach, announced in a statement released on Tuesday that the Strasbourg court referred the second case filed by Kavala in January to the Turkish government on March 21. The court granted priority status to the case on Tuesday, and the Turkish government is required to reply by July 16, according to the lawyers.

The second case concerns continuing and new violations of the European Convention on Human Rights perpetrated against Kavala since the ECtHR judgment in his first case in December 2019 that found his detention to be arbitrary, politically motivated and in pursuance of an “ulterior motive,” that of silencing him as a human rights defender.

The non-implementation of the 2019 ruling prompted the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to launch an infringement procedure against Turkey in February 2022.

The infringement proceedings judgment of July 11, 2022 held that the “finding of a violation of Article 18 [limitation on use of restrictions on rights] taken together with Article 5 [right to liberty and security] in the Kavala judgment [in 2019] had vitiated any action resulting from the charges related to the Gezi park events and the attempted coup.”

The lawyers added that while the committee continues to supervise the implementation of both the 2019 and 2022 judgments requiring Kavala’s immediate release, the new application does not affect the supervision process in any way, as it raises “new and additional” violations of the convention that have been perpetrated since the 2019 judgment.

Among the complaints in the new application are Kavala’s ongoing detention, deemed unlawful in its entirety, the domestic courts’ failure to provide a speedy review of the lawfulness of Kavala’s detention and the assertion that his detention, prosecution and jail sentence have curtailed his rights to freedom of expression and association.

In a statement in March the Committee of Ministers declared Turkey in “serious breach” of the convention and rule of law principles due to the ongoing detention of Kavala.

In October the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also adopted a resolution urging Turkey to comply with the judgments of the ECtHR and calling for Kavala’s immediate release.

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