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PACE rapporteur again calls on Turkey to implement ECtHR rulings after monitoring visit

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Stefan Schennach, one of the co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Turkey’s obligations and commitments, once again called on Turkish authorities to implement the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), following a fact-finding visit to the country.

Schennach met with jailed businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala and his family as well as imprisoned Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş as part of his fact-finding visit to Ankara and İstanbul June 11-14.

Kavala, 66, who has been in prison since November 2017, received a life sentence in 2022 for allegedly trying to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government with the Gezi Park protests, which erupted in the summer of 2013 against government plans to destroy a park in central İstanbul.

Demirtaş, a two-time presidential candidate and former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has been imprisoned since 2016.

The Austrian rapporteur also met with representatives of all political groups as well as members of the Committees on Human Rights Inquiry and on Justice at the parliament, members of Turkey’s delegation to PACE, the deputy ministers of Justice and of Foreign Affairs, judges at the Constitutional Court, the chief public prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Appeals, the representatives of a number of NGOs and members of the diplomatic community during his visit.

In a statement on Tuesday, Schennach expressed his gratitude to Turkish authorities, especially Yıldırım Tuğrul Türkeş, the chairperson of the delegation to PACE, for having facilitated his meetings with Kavala and Demirtaş.

Recalling that he had strongly called on the Turkish authorities to take without delay all necessary measures to implement the judgments concerning Kavala and Demirtaş, Schennach added that the resolution of these cases “lies in the hands of the Turkish judiciary, which has the capacity to find a legal solution in compliance with the requirements of the Committee of Ministers.”

In its 2020 ruling on Demirtaş, the ECtHR said his “unjustified” detention pursued the ulterior motive of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate in Turkey.

In the same year the court said in another ruling that Kavala’s “unjustified and extended” detention had the ultimate purpose of reducing him to silence.

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers launched an infringement proceeding against Turkey over its treatment of Kavala on February 2, 2022. This could potentially see Ankara expelled from the continent’s leading human rights organization.

In March the Committee of Ministers declared Turkey in “serious breach” of the European Convention on Human Rights and the principles of the rule of law due to Kavala’s continued detention. The committee reiterated its deep concern and the need for Turkey to take all necessary steps to ensure the immediate release of Kavala and others detained under similar circumstances.

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