Osman Kavala has been arrested after his acquittal in the Gezi trial yesterday. A day after one Turkish court ordered his release, another Turkish court has sent him back to prison. The judges who acquitted Kavala and the other defendants in the Gezi Park trial were placed under investigation. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights found this re-arrest “amounts to ill-treatment” with the call on “the Turkish judiciary and the Council of Judges and Prosecutors to assume their responsibility, by not giving a judicial confirmation to such abuses of criminal proceedings, and by reining in such prosecutors.”

The reaction of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights to the re-arrest of Osman Kavala

STRASBOURG 19/02/2020

The re-arrest of Osman Kavala after his acquittal in the Gezi trial yesterday, under separate charges concerning the coup attempt of 15 July 2016, is a perfect illustration of the acute problems of the Turkish judiciary and the situation of Turkish human rights defenders that I have examined in a report I published today.

I bear in mind that the prosecutor had Osman Kavala arrested for the first time in October 2017; that he was consequently detained, which was a human rights violation from the very outset according to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR); that the indictment against Kavala was only filed sixteen months after his initial detention; that this indictment did not contain a shred of evidence of illegal activity, as confirmed by the ECtHR; that the ECtHR ruled that these proceedings and Osman Kavala’s detention pursued the ulterior purpose of reducing him to silence as a human rights defender; and that this allegedly new investigation has also been pending since his initial arrest.

The hope I felt yesterday with the acquittals and the decision to release Kavala, after 28 months spent in detention in complete violation of several human rights protected under the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as of the most elementary principles of legality and rule of law, was unfortunately very short-lived. It is difficult not to note a similarity between this re-arrest and what happened in the cases concerning Ahmet Altan, Selahattin Demirtaş and Taner Kılıç, whose trial today I am also following very closely.

In such a context, these allegedly new charges brought against Osman Kavala have no credibility and for me, this arrest amounts to ill-treatment. I call on the Turkish judiciary and the Council of Judges and Prosecutors to assume their responsibility, by not giving a judicial confirmation to such abuses of criminal proceedings, and by reining in such prosecutors.

Read the Commissioner’s report on her visit to Turkey from 1 to 5 July 2019 (version in Turkish)