Turkey: ICJ and IBAHRI call for release of Osman Kavala following European Court of Human Rights decision

Today’s decision from the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Turkish human rights defender Osman Kavala must be immediately complied with by releasing him from detention, the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and the ICJ said today.

In the case of Kavala v Turkey, the European Court of Human Rights held that the detention of Mr Kavala, in connection with his role in the Gezi Park protests of 2013, violated the right to liberty (Article 5.1) and the right to a speedy judicial review of detention (Article 5.4) under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Court also found that his detention involves a restriction on rights for an improper purpose (Article 18). As a consequence of these findings, the Court specifically held that ‘the government must take every measure to put an end to the applicant’s detention and to secure his immediate release’.

The Turkish government has a legal obligation to comply with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. The IBAHRI and ICJ urge the authorities to abide by their obligations under the ECHR by immediately releasing Mr Kavala.

Mr Kavala has been in detention since 18 October 2017 pending trial on charges connected to the Gezi Park protests. The Gezi Park protests began in May 2013 as an effort by a group of environmentalists to save a park in central Istanbul from being rezoned, but soon grew into nationwide demonstrations. Police quelled the protest in Taksim Square with the use of tear gas and water cannons.

Mr Kavala’s trial, along with 15 other defendants, is ongoing before Istanbul 30th Assize Court. The defendants are charged under Article 312 of the Turkish Criminal Code (an attempt to overthrow the Turkish government or an attempt to prevent it from fulfilling its duties), Article 151 (damage to property), Article 152 (qualified damage to property), Article 174 (possession or exchange of hazardous substances without permission), Article 153 (damaging places of worship and cemeteries), Article 149 (qualified robbery), Article 86 (intentional injury), crimes under the Law on Firearms, Knives and Other Tools no. 6136, and crimes under the Law on Protection of Cultural and Natural Assets no. 2863.

The IBAHRI and the ICJ have jointly sent international observers to attend all hearings of the trial. The organisations will jointly release a trial observation report upon conclusion of the trial.


Róisín Pillay, Director, Europe and Central Asia Programme, t: +32 2 734 84 46 ; e: roisin.pillay(a)icj.org

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