Top prosecutor says Turkey’s withdrawal from Istanbul Convention was unlawful

(Photo: AFP)

The chief public prosecutor’s office at Turkey’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, has called for the cancellation of a presidential decree that required the withdrawal of Turkey from an international treaty against domestic violence, describing the move as unlawful, Turkish Minute reported, citing Deutsche Welle’s Turkish edition.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, is an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies and was opened to signature of member countries of the Council of Europe in 2011.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked outrage in Turkey and the international community after he issued a decree in March 2021 that pulled the country out of the international treaty, which requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting perpetrators of domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.

The top court’s prosecutor, Aytaç Kurt, said it was impossible for Turkey to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention without the passage of a new law in the Turkish Parliament, which would have made the withdrawal legally possible.

Amid calls from women’s rights organizations and world leaders, such as US President Joe Biden, for reinstatement of the Istanbul Convention, the Council of State has so far rejected numerous appeals requesting the cancellation of Erdoğan’s executive decree withdrawing Turkey from the convention.

However, new appeals have recently been filed with the court demanding cancellation of the relevant presidential decree. The court is now examining an appeal filed by the Diyarbakır Bar Association, which led to prosecutor Kurt releasing his opinion.

The prosecutor, who submitted his opinion to the 10th Chamber of the Council of State, said, “The Istanbul Convention, which is about fundamental rights and freedoms and was adopted in line with the relevant procedures, should remain in force.”

survey conducted by Metropoll revealed last year that 52.3 percent of Turks are against the withdrawal from the convention. While more than a majority of participants oppose it, 26.7 percent approve and 10.2 percent had no opinion.

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

According to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform (Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu), 280 women were murdered in Turkey in 2021.

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