Top court refuses to annul Turkey’s Istanbul Convention withdrawal

The highest body of Turkey’s top administrative court, the Council of State, has ruled that a decision by its 10th Chamber to reject a request to annul Turkey’s withdrawal from a European convention against gender-based violence was “lawful,” Turkish Minute reported.

Rights groups and Western governments expressed shock and outrage when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan withdrew Turkey from the Istanbul Convention in an overnight decree in 2021.

Turkey was the first country to sign the convention in 2011 and ratified it by a vote in parliament the following year.

Erdoğan’s political opponents argued that the president did not have the power to unilaterally withdraw the country from an international agreement.

But the 10th Chamber of the Council of State rejected a request to annul Erdoğan’s decision in July, arguing that since the president has the authority to approve international treaties after they are ratified by parliament, the legislature did not need to take any action for the president to exercise his authority to withdraw from treaties.

According to Turkish media reports, the Plenary Session of the Administrative Law Chamber (İDDK) on Monday unanimously ruled that the chamber’s decision in July was “lawful” and that Turkey has officially pulled out of the agreement.

Following the ruling by the İDDK, Meral Akşener, leader of the opposition İYİ (Good) Party, vowed to reinstate the treaty once they came to power.

“Continue to use the judiciary as a tool. … Continue to be afraid of women. We … are coming to reinstate the Istanbul Convention,” Akşener said, addressing Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

“The decisions of the male order are null and void for us women! We will win equality and freedom with our … struggle!” Pervin Buldan, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), tweeted.

The treaty — now enacted by dozens of European countries — requires member states to adopt domestic legislation and strictly punish domestic abuse and gender-based violence.

Femicides and violence against women are serious problems in Turkey, where women are killed, raped or beaten every day. Critics say the main reason behind the situation is the policies of the AKP government, which protects violent and abusive men by granting them impunity.

According to an annual report published on Monday by We Will Stop Femicide Platform (Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu), 334 women were murdered by men in Turkey in 2022.

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