BHRC Interim Trial Report: The “Gezi Park” trial continues with the ongoing detention of Osman Kavala in defiance of ECHR decision ordering his immediate release

Following on from our previous trial observations of June and October 2019, BHRC has published an interim trial report of the “Gezi Park” trial of sixteen leading civil society individuals in Turkey, including Osman Kavala and Yiğit Aksakoğlu. The interim report covers the latest hearing in the case, which was in session for a day on 24 December 2019 at a court situated in Silivri Prison outside of Istanbul. Mr Kavala remains the only defendant still in custody and has now been detained for over 26 months.

Mr Kavala continues to be detained in defiance of an unequivocal decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on 10 December 2019 calling for his immediate release from custody.

BHRC has previously stated that the extraordinary and obviously flawed indictment, and the length of Mr Kavala’s detention all lend the clear impression that the proceedings are being abused in violation of Article 18 ECHR in conjunction with Article 5 and condemns the use of terror proceedings and detention as reprisals against human rights defenders, whether they be lawyers, journalists, judges or civil society.  The continuation of this trial in these circumstances, combined with the failure to release Mr Kavala from detention and the prosecution’s call for aggravated life sentences underlines and heighten our assessment that these criminal proceedings are being used in a retaliatory and intimidatory manner.

BHRC considers that there is no proper basis for Mr Kavala to remain in detention and it calls for him to be released immediately. In addition, it calls upon the Turkish authorities to drop what is plainly a meritless prosecution and one which threatens to further erode the application of the rule of law in that country.

The continued attempt to cast peaceful Gezi Park protestors within the net of violent terrorism, retrospectively and without recourse to the evidential threshold required of the Prosecutor, has a chilling effect on the present and future  adherence to international laws and standards, as well as for civil society in Turkey. So, too, does the failure to heed and follow the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.

Kevin Dent QC attended the hearing on behalf of BHRC. BHRC will continue to follow and monitor the trial this week alongside our partner, Article 19, and other international observers. The next hearing will be on 28 January 2020.

See previous BHRC statements and updates on the trial below: