Top Turkish court rejects appeal to reverse Erdoğan’s decision to exit Istanbul Convention

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The Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative court, has rejected an appeal demanding cancellation of a presidential decree that pulled the country out of an international treaty to combat domestic violence, local media reported on Tuesday.

On March 20 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a decree withdrawing Turkey from the Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies, sparking outrage in Turkey and the international community.

The top court’s 10th Chamber on Tuesday rejected by a vote of three to two an appeal submitted by nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener that sought an immediate stay of execution and the ultimate annulment of the presidential decree that pulled Turkey out of the landmark European treaty.

The court underlined in the decision that it was “legally possible” for Erdoğan to pull the country out of İstanbul Convention since the authority to ratify and annul international agreements were among the president’s powers, according to Article 104 of the constitution.

İbrahim Topuz, a member of the Council of State’s 10th Chamber who disagreed with the majority decision, argued that parliament should decide whether or not to withdraw from the convention, not the president, local media reports said.

Ahmet Saraç, who held the other dissenting opinion, said an administrative act must be withdrawn, abolished or terminated in line with the same procedure used when it was established, in accordance with the principle of parallelism of competence and procedure.

Turkey, the first member state to ratify the CoE convention that was opened for signature in İstanbul during Turkey’s chairmanship of the organization 10 years ago, ironically has also become the first state that announced its withdrawal from it.

Violence against women and femicide are serious problems in Turkey, with daily media coverage of the issue.

In 2020, 300 women were murdered, and the rate shows no sign of slowing, with 112 women killed in the first five months of 2021, according to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform.

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