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Turkey confirms withdrawal from international Istanbul Convention


The judges' decision was narrow: they agreed with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by three votes to two. This had withdrawn by decree from the international agreement to protect women from violence.

Turkey's Supreme Administrative Court has confirmed the country's withdrawal from the International Istanbul Convention on Women's Rights. Head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to withdraw from the agreement in March 2021. The international agreement obliges its signatories to legislate to protect women from violence and to take action against acts of violence. The groundbreaking convention of the Council of Europe was signed in Istanbul in 2011. Conservative groups, including Erdogan and his nationalist Justice and Development Party (AKP), believe the treaty promotes homosexuality and threatens traditional family values.

An alliance of opposition parties, lawyers, and human rights activists had complained about Erdogan's decision. They argued that the President did not have the power to revoke the membership in an international treaty by decree. The two dissenting judges of the Supreme Administrative Court took a similar view. In a separate statement, they said they believed Erdogan's actions exceeded his authority.

Turkey's largest opposition party, CHP, immediately announced that it would appeal the court's decision. Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu also promised: "If we are in power (...), we will reintroduce the Istanbul Convention in the first week or even in the first 24 hours." The opposition leader is a possible candidate for the presidential elections in June 2023.

Women's organizations call for further demonstrations

The women's rights organization "Stop Feminicides" called for rallies against the verdict in several Turkish cities such as Istanbul and Izmir. "From a legal point of view, it's appalling," the organization's lawyer, Ipek Bozkurt, told AFP. "This erroneous decision should have been stopped by the court."

According to information from the Turkish organization "We Will Stop Femicide" (We will stop the murder of women), at least 226 women have been murdered so far this year, compared to 425 last year. The country's leading women's rights organization is to be banned. In April, a prosecutor in Istanbul filed a corresponding lawsuit. It accuses the organization of "activities against the law and against morality".