CoE commissioner submits opinion in Kavala case at European rights court

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Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, talks during a press conference on June 29, 2018 at the end of her five-day visit to Greece, focusing on migration and on the impact of austerity on human rights. (Photo by LOUISA GOULIAMAKI / AFP)

Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović on Thursday submitted an opinion in a case brought by jailed human rights activist and businessman Osman Kavala against the government of Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported.

She described the incarceration of Kavala as part of increasing pressure in Turkey on the legitimate activities of human rights activists and civil society organizations.

Furthermore, Mijatović criticized the ineffectiveness of Turkey’s Constitutional Court as regards the legality of long periods of pre-detention.

Kavala has been jailed for 15 months on allegations of terrorism without an indictment being filed.

In November Mijatović had announced her decision to participate in a case brought by Turkish rights activist Kavala against Turkey at the ECtHR.

“I have decided to exercise my power under the ECHR and I informed the European Court of Human Rights that I will submit written observations as a third party in the pending case of Mehmet Osman Kavala v. Turkey,” Mijatović said in a statement in November 2018.

Kavala was detained in October 2017 and subsequently jailed pending trial, accused of seeking to overthrow the government as part of an investigation into the Gülen network, which Ankara accuses of carrying out a 2016 failed coup.

In a statement marking one year since he was remanded into custody, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had renewed calls at the end of October for Kavala’s immediate and unconditional release.

No indictment outlining the precise charges against him had so far been issued by prosecutors, their statement said.

“His detention has had far-reaching effects on human rights defenders and their work in Turkey. As such, I raised his case on several occasions in my official meetings with the Turkish authorities during my contact mission to Turkey last month and called for his speedy release,” Mijatović said in her statement.

“During my contact mission, the Turkish authorities spoke of a normalisation process following the lifting of the state of emergency. However, these latest developments cast serious doubts about this process,” she said, referring to the detention of human rights activists the previous week.

Detention warrants were issued on Nov. 16 for 20 prominent academics as part of the Kavala investigation. A Turkish court arrested one of the detainees, while the remainder are subject to travel bans.

“These persons, twelve of whom have subsequently been released under judicial control with a travel ban, include respected partners of my Office and the Council of Europe,” Mijatović said.

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