In a move likely to spark a fresh wave of protests from women’s rights groups, Turkey’s top administrative court on Tuesday ruled that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had the right to pull Turkey out of a European convention against gender-based violence, Agence France-Presse reported.
Rights groups and Western governments voiced shock and outrage when Erdoğan withdrew Turkey from the Istanbul Convention in an overnight decree last year.
Erdoğan’s political opponents argued that the president did not have the power to unilaterally withdraw the country from an international agreement.
Turkey became the first country to sign the convention in 2011 and ratified it by a vote in parliament the following year.
But the Council of State on Tuesday rejected a request to annul Erdoğan’s decision in a case involving testimony from leading women’s rights advocates and legal scholars.
The court’s legal reasoning was not immediately released to the press.
But a lawyer representing the We Will Stop Femicide Platform rights organization said the 40-page ruling referred to the president’s “right of discretion” when interpreting Turkey’s laws.
“It is terrifying from a legal perspective,” lawyer İpek Bozkurt told AFP. “This erroneous decision should have been stopped by the court.”
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.
But Erdoğan’s Islamic conservative supporters argued that its language promoted LGBTQ rights.