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Turkey faces infringement proceedings at CoE for refusing to abide by European Court rulings

THE Council of Europe is expected to decide today on whether to bring infringement proceedings against Turkey over its refusal to release jailed businessman Osman Kavala.

The rarely used mechanism could see a loss of voting rights or other sanctions against Turkey, although outright expulsion, which is being pressed by its critics, is thought to be unlikely.

The Committee of Ministers — the council’s decision making body — has been deliberating since Tuesday. 

It has threatened Turkey with infringement proceedings twice already over its refusal to abide by a 2019 European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that he should be freed.

Mr Kavala was detained in 2017 on charges of membership of the “Gulenist terror group” and being a mastermind of the Gezi Park protests which prosecutors said was “an attempt to overthrow the government through violence.”

He has been acquitted twice for the same crime, with his next hearing scheduled for January 2022. 

Turkey has been in the spotlight at the Council of Europe this week with discussions also taking place about the prison treatment of jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

A renewed campaign for his release was timed as ministers were set to discuss the Kurdish resistance leader’s case for the first time in nearly seven years.

Demonstrations have taken place this week, though they were suspended yesterday as protests were banned due to the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to the Council in Strasbourg.

Lawyers for Mr Ocalan argued at the ECHR in March 2014 that his sentence of life imprisonment without parole was a violation of Turkey’s constitution.

The court ruled in the PKK leader’s favour, but Turkey has simply ignored the judgement and that of other prisoners with similar sentences.

Mr Ocalan has been denied access to his own legal team, with just five requests out of 962 applications approved since 2011.

His treatment, including the majority of his sentence spent in isolation, amounts to torture according to the Council of Europe monitoring group the Committee to Prevent Torture.

It also breaches the United Nations Mandela Rule on the minimum treatment of prisoners.

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