Turkey: Statement by the High Representative on the conviction of Mr. Osman Kavala
On 25 April, Istanbul’s 13th High Criminal Court sentenced Mr Osman Kavala, a prominent human rights defender, to life in prison without parole, finding him guilty of attempting to overthrow the government. Seven other defendants were sentenced to 18 years in prison.
We deeply regret this verdict, which comes less than three months after the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe launched infringement proceedings against Turkey for refusing to implement the legally-binding judgement of the European Court of Human Rights. In December 2019, the Court ruled that Mr Kavala’s detention took place in the absence of sufficient evidence that he had committed an offence. It found that his arrest and pre-trial detention pursued an ulterior purpose, namely to silence him and dissuade other human rights defenders from carrying out legitimate activities.
Turkey, as a Member of the Council of Europe, has the obligation to implement the decisions of the Court. Its continued refusal to implement these rulings increases the EU’s concerns regarding the Turkish judiciary’s adherence to international and European standards. We call on Turkey to abide by its international commitments.
We call on Turkey to release Osman Kavala. In the current challenging times, protecting and upholding our common values, in particular the protection of human rights, is more important than ever.