The General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the situation of human rights defenders in Council of Europe member States, Alexandra Louis (France, ALDE), made the following statement on the occasion of the third anniversary of the pre-trial detention of Turkish activist Osman Kavala:
“It is very shocking that Mr Kavala remains in pre-trial detention and that a new indictment has recently been issued against him, despite the Istanbul court’s judgment in February announcing his acquittal, the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) of 10 December 2019 and the decisions of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers calling for his immediate release.
Currently accused of ‘espionage’ and alleged participation in the failed coup of 15 July 2016, Mr Kavala faces a life sentence. As already pointed out by the Committee of Ministers, there is a strong presumption that his current detention is not based on conclusive evidence and is a continuation of the violations already found by the Strasbourg Court.
I therefore reiterate my appeal to the Turkish authorities to immediately release Mr Kavala and to respect their international commitments to the protection of human rights.
As this detention has a deterrent effect on the work of human rights defenders in Turkey, I also call on the Turkish authorities to refrain from any intimidation or reprisals against them."