Ten international and local human rights organizations have issued a statement calling on Turkey to release jailed businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala in line with a decision from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the Gazete Duvar news website reported.
A civil society activist and critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Kavala has been in jail since his arrest in 2017, facing myriad shifting charges linked to protests in 2013 and a 2016 attempted coup.
The rights groups’ statement came ahead of a meeting of the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Council of Ministers this week, which is responsible for determining if ECtHR rulings have been observed.
Among the rights organizations that called for Kavala’s release are the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders, the İstanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD), the Diyarbakır-based Rosa Women’s Association and the Research Institute on Turkey, headquartered in New York.
The rights groups said in their statement that Kavala is being held behind bars on politically motivated charges and that new charges are constantly brought against the businessmen to keep him in jail.
“As the signatory human rights organizations of this statement, we call on for the release of Kavala from jail in line with the ECtHR ruling, or else call on the Council to take all the measures necessary to ensure that the ECtHR rulings are put into practice,” said the rights organizations in their statement.
Kavala remains behind bars despite six decisions and one interim resolution by the CoE Committee of Ministers defining his detention as arbitrary and strongly urging the authorities to ensure the applicant’s immediate release.
Instead of releasing Kavala from detention, a domestic court rendered a decision on August 2 to merge the ongoing criminal proceedings against him with another set of criminal proceedings relating to the 2013 Gezi Park protest, further undermining prospects for his release.
He was originally acquitted in the protest case, but the decision was overturned on appeal last month.