Turkey: European Court decision on detained opposition leader exposes broken judicial system

Responding to today’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that Turkey’s repeated extensions to the pre-trial detention of opposition leader Selahattin Demirtaş, were politically motivated and violated Articles 5(3) and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights and were “stifling pluralism and freedom of political debate”, Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, Andrew Gardner said: 
“This ruling by Europe’s top human rights court should have far-reaching implications within the country where civil society actors are routinely remanded in prolonged pre-trial detention under trumped up charges. It exposes the pernicious and undue influence of politics in Turkey’s broken judicial system, in which the peaceful expression of opinions and political dissent are punished through the courts.
“As a member state of the Council of Europe, Turkey is bound by the Court’s rulings. The authorities must implement the Court’s decision and immediately release Selahattin Demirtaş from his prolonged and unlawful pre-trial detention.”  
For more information or to arrange an interview contact  Lucy Scholey , Amnesty International Canada (English), +1 613-744-7667 ext. 236, lscholey@amnesty.ca. 
This judgement is the first ever finding of a violation of Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) against Turkey. The Court made this finding in conjunction with its finding that Turkey violated Article 5(3) of the Convention (right to be tried within a reasonable time).
Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has been held in pre-trial detention for more than two years.   
The Court’s ruling established that extensions to Selahattin Demirtaş’ pre-trial detention were not only wrong but pursued with the purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate, a first in a case against Turkey. 
The Court ordered the Turkish government to “take all necessary measures to put an end to the applicant’s pre-trial detention” at the earliest possible date and considered that “any continuation of Mr Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention would entail a prolongation of the violation of Article 5(3) and Article 18 of the Convention and a breach of the obligations on respondent States to abide by the Court’s judgment.”