A prosecutor from the council that oversees the legality of administrative court decisions says President Erdogan had no lawful right to withdraw Turkey in 2021 from an international treaty – and the decision should therefore be annulled.

Erdogan’s Withdrawal from Istanbul Convention ‘Illegal’, Top Prosecutor Says

Women in masks hold placards and shout slogans during a rally against violence against women in Istanbul, August 5, 2020. Photo: EPA-EFE/ERDEM SAHIN

Turkish State Council Prosecutor Elmas Mucukgil said on January 20 that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s withdrawal of Turkey from the “Istanbul Convention”, a European treaty on women rights and domestic violence, was illegal.

“The presidential decision on the annulment of the treaty did not comply with the law,” Mucukgil said in a court case, the daily Cumhuriyet reported.

Mucukgil said only parliament could withdraw the country from an international treaty. “The decision should be annulled,” Mucukgil added.

The State Council is Turkey’s top administrative court and monitors the legality of decisions made by administrative courts. Its decisions must be respected by the government.

State Council Prosecutors can also present their opinions on ongoing important administrative cases.

Its determination on the legality of President Erdogan’s withdrawal from the treaty is still ongoing, but experts say the top prosecutor’s opinion signals the possible eventual ruling of the State Council.

The Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence was opened for signatures in May 2011 in Istanbul.

Turkey was the first country to ratify the treaty, but Islamist and conservative critics claimed that it undermined traditional family values, and Erdogan then withdrew his country from the treaty, which came into force on July 1, 2021.

Femicide and violence against women generally remain major problems in Turkey. In the first 20 days of 2022 alone, at least 18 women were killed by men in Turkey. A total of 414 women were recorded as killed by men in 2021 and 411 in 2019.

Turkish police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse women protesters who marched t to mark International Day for the Elimination Violence Against Women on November 25 last year.

Repeated calls by the opposition, rights groups and international organisations for Turkey to return to the convention have been dismissed by the government.

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