Turkey: re-arrest of Osman Kavala immediately after his acquittal is a travesty of justice

by | Feb 19, 2020 | News

The ICJ and IBAHRI condemn yesterday’s re-arrest of Turkish human rights defender Osman Kavala, immediately following his acquittal on charges connected to the Gezi Park demonstrations that began in May 2013.

Osman Kavala was arrested on his release from prison yesterday evening, on suspicion of “attempting to disrupt the constitutional order” connected to the failed coup attempt of 2016.

“For Osman Kavala to be acquitted yesterday, on charges for which there was never credible evidence against him, only to be immediately re-arrested on another highly improbable charge, suggests a criminal justice system that is operating to suppress independent civil society rather than uphold due process and the rule of law,” said Róisín Pillay, Director of the ICJ’s Europe and Central Asia Programme.

Osman Kavala has been held in pre-trial detention since October 2017.  The European Court of Human Rights recently ordered that Turkey must act to secure his immediate release, and found that his detention violated his right to liberty (Article 5.1 ECHR) and his right to speedy judicial review of detention (Article 5.4 ECHR), and pursued an improper purpose (Article 18 ECHR).

“It is disgraceful that the Turkish authorities seek to evade compliance with their obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights to end the arbitrary detention of Osman Kavala, by releasing and re-arresting him. We call for these new charges to be dropped and for Osman Kavala to be immediately released,” said Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, IBAHRI Director.


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, took place before Istanbul 30th Assize Court. The IBAHRI and the ICJ jointly sent international observers to attend all hearings of the trial.

Contact :

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

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