Istanbul Convention exit a violation of law, says top Turkish court prosecutor

The prosecutor of Turkey’s Council of State, the highest administrative court, on Thursday said that the country’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty to prevent violence against women, was a violation of the law, Diken news site reported.

In March of 2021, Turkey withdrew from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence by presidential decree, sparking demonstrations across the country after women’s rights groups warned the decision would undermine efforts to tackle gender-based violence.

The country’s controversial exit occurred following backlash from conservative critics, who maintain the treaty promotes LGBT+ education and goes against “traditional family values,” in addition to defining gender as a "socially constructed" category.

The Council of State prosecutor’s call is set to be followed by a ruling by the court on appeals requesting the cancellation of Turkey’s exit from the convention within one month Diken said. The court is expected to release a written statement on the matter.

The court has thus far rejected hundreds of appeals requesting the cancellation of Erdoğan’s presidential decree withdrawing Turkey from the treaty, but new appeals have recently been filed with the Council of State, calling for the cancellation of the relevant executive decree.

Hundreds of lawyers were present Thursday’s hearing, according to Diken, which saw attendance requests from over 1,000 women lawyers from 73 bar associations around the country.

Ankara’s withdrawal from the treaty triggered heavy criticism from the international community, including the United States and the European Union.

Turkey’s decision to exit from the treaty was described as "devastating" for efforts to combat domestic violence by the head of Europe's top human rights body, the Council of Europe.

Violence against women and femicide remain serious problems in Turkey, where citizens are putting increased pressure on the government to tackle the issues.

At least 339 women have been killed by men in Turkey last year, according to news website Bianet’s Male Violence Monitoring Report.

The data for 2021, in which Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, marks the highest number of female deaths by men in Bianet’s annual monitoring reports, accounted for since 2010.

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