The three-day meetings of the Committee of Ministers, which is a body of the Council of Europe (CoE) responsible for monitoring the implementation of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decisions, have ended today, 2 December.
As a result of a vote in the last meeting, the Committee called for the initiation of the infringement process against Turkey. This is a rarely-used procedure which imposes sanctions against member states who defy the CoE’s rules, and requires the votes of two-thirds of the member states.
More than the 32 members of the 47-member CoE that corresponds to the minimum threshold for the process to be inititated, raised their hands against Ankara, according to Euronews.-
The official decision is expected to be announced tomorrow, 3 December.
On 17 September, the Committee of Ministers agreed to initiate the infringement process against Turkey in December unless the country releases political prisoners philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been jailed since November 2017, and former head of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been jailed since November 2016.
At that time, the Council of Europe gave its final warning to Turkey that infringement proceedings would start against Turkey in November if Osman Kavala were not released before then.
With the decision to initiate the infringement process against Turkey, an official notification will be sent to Turkey and Ankara will be asked to respond within a certain deadline.
In the second phase, the Committee of Ministers will take a distinct decision, in accordance with the mandate given to it by Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to file a joint complaint against Turkey with the ECtHR. A decision to be taken in this direction will require the votes of two-thirds of the members.
If the ECtHR rules a decision of violation, the Committee will asses the measures to be taken against Turkey.
These measures include excluding Turkey from the Council or suspending its voting rights.
The ECtHR on 19 December 2019 ruled that Kavala’s detention constituted a violation of human rights and that he should be released immediately.
On 22 December 2020, the ECtHR Grand Chamber ruled that in initially detaining Demirtaş and then prolonging his detention for over four years, the Turkish government had pursued an ulterior motive of preventing him from carrying out his political activities, depriving voters of their elected representative, and ‘stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate.’
Despite the ECtHR rulings, both Kavala and Demirtaş are still behind bars.