The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday urged Turkey to end the pre-trial detention of Selahattin Demirtaş, a co-chair of the Kurdish separatist Peoples’ Democratic Party.
The Turkish government lifted parliamentary immunity in May 2016, ending special protections for politicians. Demirtaş was arrested on November 4, 2016, and has been in pre-trial detention ever since. This lengthy detention has caused Demirtaş to miss the 2017 referendum and the 2018 presidential election.
In a press release, the ECHR stated that the extension of Demirtaş’ detention has had the effect of “stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate.”
The court found that he had successful claims under the following Articles of the European Convention of Human Rights: Article 5 § 3, stating that his detention had been extended without sufficient grounds to justify its duration, Article 18, that the extension had the predominant ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of public debate, and Article 3 protocol 1, that his detention interfered with his right to be elected, to sit in parliament, and had infringed on the rights of those who voted for him.
The court held that the Turkish government is to release Demirtaş from pre-trial detention as soon as possible, unless new information is brought forward that would justify continuing to detain him. Additionally, the court ruled that Turkey is to pay Demirtaş damages amounting to €25,000.