This briefing is submitted in accordance with Rule 9(2) of the Rules of the Committee of Ministers for the supervision of the execution of judgments, in advance of the 1377th meeting (June 2020) (DH) of the Ministers’ Deputies on the execution of judgments. Amnesty International seeks to assist the Committee of Ministers in its evaluation of the general and individual measures that the Turkish government needs to take to comply with the findings of the Kavala v. Turkey (application no. 28749/18) judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (the Court). Accordingly, Amnesty International would like to share with the Committee of Ministers its concerns about a clear pattern of arbitrary, lengthy and punitive pre-trial detentions pursued for ulterior political ends, alongside abusive prosecutions based on broad and vague anti-terrorism legislation and other broadly applied criminal law provisions against human rights defenders and perceived government opponents and critics in Turkey.
The case of Osman Kavala, held in pre-trial detention since November 2017, is an emblematic example of this pattern of cases. The Court considered that it had been established beyond reasonable doubt that the measures complained of “pursued an ulterior purpose, contrary to Article 18 of the Convention, namely that of reducing the applicant to silence. Further, in view of the charges that were brought against the applicant, it considered that the contested measures were likely to have a dissuasive effect on the work of human-rights defenders”.
Turkey must not only comply with the Court’s ruling and promptly release him, but also guarantee against further arbitrary and politically motivated prosecutions and ensure an enabling environment for human rights defenders and civil society by changing its laws and practice in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).