European Parliament condemns sentencing of Turkish activist and businessman Osman Kavala

STRASBOURG, France — Following the 25 April decision of a Turkish court to sentence prominent businessman, philanthropist, and activist Osman Kavala to life in prison on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government” for supporting protests in 2013, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the sentencing and called on the European Union and Member States to take action.

Section 1 of the adopted resolution reads:

“Condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the recent ruling by Istanbul’s 13th High Criminal Court imposing an aggravated life sentence on Osman Kavala after more than four and a half years of unjust, unlawful and illegitimate detention and less than three months after the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe launched infringement proceedings against Turkey for refusing to implement the legally binding judgment of the ECtHR; believes that he has been convicted on unjustified charges, for the ulterior purpose of silencing him as a human rights defender and deterring critical voices in Turkey; equally condemns the sentencing of co-defendants Mücella Yapıcı, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Ali Hakan Altınay, Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi, Çiğdem Mater Utku and Mine Özerden.”

The resolution also stated that the Turkish government’s refusal to adhere to the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and impose a life sentence on Kaval effectively ends any possibility of Turkey joining the European Union:

“[T]he decision to openly defy the binding rulings of the ECtHR on the case of Osman Kavala and others, the current Turkish Government has deliberately destroyed any hopes of reopening its EU accession process or opening new chapters and closing open ones under the current circumstances.”

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of judgments issued by the ECtHR, threatened to initiate disciplinary measures against Turkey due to its failure to implement the order of the Court to release civil society activist Osman Kavala who has been in prison since November 2017. 

The ECHR gave a deadline of 19 April for parties to present their views on discussing sanctions imposition against Turkey. The statement indicated that the Court would re-evaluate the Turkish violation for the second time. 

Earlier, the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee overwhelmingly approved a proposal that includes a formal suspension of negotiations with Turkey over membership in the European Union.

Language used in the ID Group’s Motion for a Resolution on the Kaval Case referring to Turkey’s history of “disappearances of Kurds/Alevis/Yazidis, Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and opponents of the regime in place have been commonplace for a century, e.g. the recent case of the tragic disappearance of the Diril couple” was not included in the Joint Motion for a Resolution proposed by The Left Group, S&D Group, Renew Group, Verts/ALE Group, and EPP Group that was adopted by the EP.

Also Read: Why Selahattin Demirtaş and Osman Kavala are being held captive