Second case lodged by Osman Kavala: European Court of Human Rights finds Türkiye has a case to answer and grants priority to the case

Today (8 April 2024), the European Court of Human Rights has published details of and granted priority status to a second case lodged by Mr. Osman Kavala.

The new case (No. 2170/24) was lodged on 18 January 2024 and on 21 March the Court referred the case to the Government of Türkiye, which is required to reply by 16 July 2024.

The case concerns continuing and new violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) perpetrated against Mr Kavala since the European Court judgment in his first case on 10 December 2019. That judgment found Mr Kavala’s detention to be arbitrary and politically motivated and ordered his immediate release. Due to a lack of compliance with this judgment, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe initiated infringement proceedings against Türkiye. The infringement proceedings judgment of 11 July 2022 has explicitly held that the ‘finding of a violation of Article 18 taken together with Article 5 in the Kavala judgment [of 10 December 2019] had vitiated any action resulting from the charges
related to the Gezi part events and the attempted coup’ (Grand Chamber ‘infringement proceedings’ judgment of 11 July 2022, para. 172). However, the Turkish courts have ignored the legally binding nature of both judgments and, in 2022, Mr. Kavala was convicted of attempting to overthrow the Government and was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment.

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers continues to supervise the implementation of both the 2019 and 2022 judgments which require Mr. Kavala’s immediate release. Türkiye remains under a binding legal obligation to comply with those judgments. This new application to the Court does not affect the supervision process in any way, or have any impact on Türkiye’s continuing legal obligations already arising from the first European Court judgment. It raises new and additional violations of the ECHR which have been perpetrated since the 2019 judgment.

  • The new application makes the following complaints:
  • Mr Kavala’s continuing detention, from 10 December 2019 until today is unlawful in its entirety (Article 5 ECHR);
  • the domestic courts failed to provide a speedy review of the lawfulness of his detention (Article 5(4) ECHR);
  • Mr Kavala’s right to a fair trial was flagrantly violated (Articles 6(1), 6(2) and 6(3)(d) ECHR);
  • Mr Kavala’s conviction under Article 312 of the Turkish Criminal Code (attempting to overthrow the government) does not comply with the requirement of foreseeability (Article 7 ECHR);
  • his detention, prosecution and jail sentence were intended to silence and punish him as a human rights defender, and have curtailed his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association (Articles 10 and 11 ECHR);
  • Mr Kavala’s detention, conviction and aggravated life sentence pursued an ulterior political purpose, namely that of silencing and punishing him (Articles 18 and 5, 6, 7, 10, 11 ECHR);
  • the inordinately long, arbitrary, politically motivated and unlawful detention of an innocent man, and the lack of any possibility of review of the life sentence imposed on Mr Kavala violates Article 3 ECHR.

Professor Başak Çalı
University of Oxford & Hertie School;
Representative of Osman Kavala 

Professor Philip Leach
Middlesex University, London
Representative of Osman Kavala