European committee urges top Turkish court to expedite Demirtas’s detention application

The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers’ Deputies on Tuesday called on Turkey’s top court to expedite the application from Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas over his ongoing detention while renewing a call for his release.

The CoE committee has urged Turkey’s Constitutional Court to process the application by the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in line with earlier judgments by European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) calling for Demirtas’s release.
Demirtas, the former head of Turkey’s second opposition party in parliament, has been imprisoned since 2016 on a string of terror charges. The ECHR in 2018 ruled that Demirtas’s pretrial detention was political and ordered his release.
In 2020, the ECHR ruled that Turkey’s detention of the Kurdish politician was politically motivated and aimed to prevent him from carrying out his political activities. The ECHR also found Turkey in violation of Article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits rights restrictions for abusive purposes. The Turkish authorities have failed to comply with the European court’s orders to release Demirtas.
The statement from the CoE committee follows its 1,443rd Human Rights Meeting between September 20 -22, in which several judgments of the ECHR remain pending, including the case of Demirtas.
The committee expressed serious concern over Demirtaş’s application challenging his current detention, which been pending before the Constitutional Court since Nov 2019, while , strongly urging the Turkish authorities “’to assure the applicant’s immediate release.”
The CoE committee also called on Turkey to “adopt concrete legislative and other measures capable of strengthening freedom of political debate, pluralism, and the freedom of expression of elected representatives, especially of members of the opposition.”
Turkey remains “not free” with a score of 32 out of 100, placing the country in the same category as Russia, China and Iran, according to “Freedom in the World 2021” report by Freedom House.
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