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04/19/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Last Thursday, the Council of Europe said that it was ready to use all means necessary to secure the release of Osman Kavala, a philanthropist and human rights activist who has been held in custody in Turkey since 2017 on various charges linked to nationwide protests in 2013 and the failed 2016 military coup. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly delivered rulings for his release, citing a lack of evidence that Kavala had committed any offence and political motivations for his prolonged detention.

Following a meeting of its Council of Ministers last week, the Council of Europe reiterated the European Court of Human Right’s decision and called for the immediate release of Kavala from Turkish custody and rejected rulings by Turkey’s Constitutional Court that Kavala’s fundamental rights had not been violated during his detention. A statement released by the Council stated that Turkey was in violation of Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights as “Kavala’s continuing pre-trial detention and the pending proceedings brought against him reinforce the conclusion that the national authorities fail to take into account the European Court’s findings.”

The Council said that it was ready “to ensure the implementation of judgement by actively considering using all means at the disposal of the Organisation,” with possible sanctions including the removal of Turkey’s voting rights at the Council, or even complete expulsion from the European body. Turkey was suspended from the body in 1981 for failing to form a democratic government following a coup that year, though has been a consistent member since.

Nonetheless, the threat of sanctions and possible expulsion indicate the seriousness with which the Council of Europe is taking this matter.

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