CoE human rights commissioner to intervene in activist Kavala case at ECHR

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović announced on Tuesday that she will be intervening in the case of jailed Turkish human rights activist and businessman Osman Kavala before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Turkey’s well-known philanthropist and civil society activist Osman Kavala was detained in October of 2017 on preliminary charges of having links to the the July 2016 coup attempt and supporting the Taksim Square protests of 2013 and arrested shortly thereafter. The 61-year-old philanthropist is still waiting on an indictment.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has publicly branded Kavala as “Turkey’s George Soros,” a turn of phrase that speaks volumes to far-right activists and conspiracy theorists who interpret the Hungarian businessman’s support for progressive causes as an illegal attempt to push his own agenda.

Kavala’s lawyers referred to these accusations in a request for priority sent to the ECHR in June, after months without being presented with a completed charge sheet by the prosecution. The ECHR responded to the request in August, making Kavala’s case priority that will allow it to make a ruling before his indictment has been prepared. 

Calling Kavala “a pillar of Turkish civil society,’’ Mijatović noted in a post on Facebook that the famed businessman’s detention has had far-reaching effects on human rights defenders in Turkey.

‘’I have decided to exercise my power under the ECHR and I informed the European Court of Human Rights that I will submit written observations as a third party in the pending case of Mehmet Osman Kavala v. Turkey,’’ she wrote.

National and international human rights groups have voiced outrage over the arrest of Kavala,who is known for his work in funding projects to bridge social and ethnic divides in Turkey and encourage cultural diversity.