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Joint Statement by 18 Rights Organizations: Osman Kavala Must be Released Immediately
28/02/2020, 16:14


In a press conference held by the Solidarity Network for Human Rights Defenders, it is underlined that Kavala’s re-arrest is an example of maltreatment. The Network has made a call to “stop manipulating the law as a tool for harassment and revenge.”

18 rights organizations have held a statement for the press regarding the re-arrest of rights defender and businessperson Osman Kavala.

Handed down a verdict of acquittal and release in Gezi trial on February 18, Kavala has been arrested again as part of another investigation launched into the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Accordingly, 18 organizations constituting the Solidarity Network for Human Rights Defenders – Turkey held a press statement at the İstanbul Office of the Human Rights Association (İHD) today (February 28).

Referring to Osman Kavala’s re-arrest as “an example of mistreatment”, the Solidarity Network has made a call for his immediate release.

‘It constitutes violations to both national and international law’

The press conference was attended by Mahir Geçikligün from the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, Esra Koç from the Citizens’ Assembly Turkey, Tarık Beyhan from the Amnesty International, Leman Yurtsever from the İHD, Aslı Ece Kocak from the MLSA, Sinan Gökçen from the Civil Rights Defenders, Ümit Efe from the TİHV and Burcu Bingöllü from Memory Center.

The following joint statement was read out in the press conference:

“Osman Kavala’s re-arrest is an example of maltreatment, as defined by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic as well. The punitive decision of re-arrest, which constitutes violations to both national and international law, should be revoked and Osman Kavala must be released immediately.

“When Osman Kavala was taken into police custody on October 18, 2017, the custody order was not issued solely based on the Gezi investigation. The file opened against Kavala at that time also included an investigation in connection with ‘the July 15 coup attempt’ under Article 309 of Turkish Penal Code (TPC). In this investigation, an ex-officio release order was issued per Article 309 on October 11, 2019. An indictment has not been prepared thus far although this investigation was launched more than two years ago.

‘He cannot be detained over two years without lawsuit’

“Existing legislation orders that the duration of the detainment cannot exceed two years if there is no indictment. Osman Kavala’s investigation file based on Article 309 of TPC exceeded two years as of February 25, 2020. Therefore, Kavala’s re-arrest violates the Law no. 7188 on Amending the Code of Criminal Procedure and Certain Laws, which took effect on October 24, 209. This new regulation stipulates that a suspect cannot be detained for more than two years without the presence of a lawsuit against them.

“Following his custody on February 18, 2020, Osman Kavala was referred to the Criminal Peace Judgeship with the prosecutor demanding his arrest without conducting a new interrogation at the police station or the Prosecutor’s office. This clearly shows that Kavala’s re-arrest was not grounded on any evidence or intelligence revealed during the last 28 months.

“Hence, there is a clear legal obligation to release Osman Kavala in relation to this file on February 25, 2020. Petitions from lawyers or the initiative of judges and prosecutors are not even needed for this release order, as the legislation already stipulates that Kavala should be released.

“This arrest order against Osman Kavala and his continued detention have no legal ground whatsoever. This arrest order is the result of a politically motivated determination to keep Osman Kavala behind bars, and a willingness to abuse the law as a means to this end.

‘His arrest is for political reasons’

“President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement, ‘They attempted to acquit him with a maneuver” that came while Osman Kavala was under custody has proved that Kavala’s re-arrest has a political motive. This is an overt repetition of Osman Kavala’s arrest for ‘political reasons and without reasonable suspicion’, a practice which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decision dated December 10, 2019 defines as a violation of Article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The ECtHR also examined the allegation that Kavala ‘attempted to destroy the constitutional order of the Republic of Turkey” under Article 309 of the TPC, which is used to justify Kavala’s re-arrest, in its judgement. Therefore, ECtHR’s call for ‘immediate release’ refers not only to the Gezi Trial and encompasses the July 15 investigation as well.

“We, human rights defenders, demand Osman Kavala’s immediate release. Turkey must abide by the national legislation and the ECtHR judgement; stop manipulating the law as a tool for harassment and revenge; and ensure the rule of law prevails for all citizens including Osman Kavala.”

The members of Solidarity Network for Human Rights Defenders – Turkey

Amnesty International, Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, Citizens’ Assembly Turkey, Civil Space Studies Association, Civil Rights Defenders, Human Rights Association (İHD), Human Rights Agenda Association, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), Initiative for Freedom of Expression, Kaos GL, Life Memory Freedom Association, Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), SPOD, Punto24 Association for Independent Journalism, Research Institute on Turkey, The Rights Initiative, Truth Justice Memory Center, Turkish-German Forum of Culture

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