Turkey's exit from Istanbul Convention 'unlawful,' says Council of State prosecutor

Turkey's Council of State on April 28 discussed over 200 applications filed by women organizations and bar associations against a presidential decree that last year pulled the country from the Istanbul Convention. In their final opinion, the Council of State prosecutor deemed the relevant decree "unlawful," demanding its cancellation. The top administrative court is expected to give its ruling in one month.

A protestor holds a banner reading 'Istanbul Convention keeps alive' during a demonstration in this file photo.

Müzeyyen Yüce / DUVAR 

A prosecutor from the Council of State, Turkey's highest administrative court, has demanded the cancellation of a presidential decree that pulled the country out of the Istanbul Convention last year. 

The prosecutor presented their final opinion (“esas hakkındaki görüş”) during a hearing of the case overseen at the Council of State's 10th Chamber on April 28. The top administrative court is expected to its ruling with regards to the case in one month. The ruling will be released in a written format.

On March 20, 2021, Turkey's Official Gazette announced a presidential decision to withdraw from the convention, which is specifically designed to tackle systematic and widespread violence against women. In return, women organizations, politicians and bar associations filed over 200 applications amounting to 10 cases at the Council of State, demanding that the relevant presidential decree be canceled.

A hearing of the case took place on April 28, which saw the attendance of several lawyers representing many of the bar associations throughout Turkey.

Also, representatives of several women organizations gathered in front of the Council of State in the morning hours, releasing a press statement. The Women’s Platform for Equality (EŞİK) said that the trial will show “whether it is the law of those who see themselves above judiciary or whether it is the superiority of law that will persist” in the end.

EŞİK said that if the Council of State rejects their application, then they will take their case to the Constitutional Court and then to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The head of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) Erinç Sağkan made a defense on behalf of Ankara Bar Association, saying that the relevant presidential decree is “unlawful.” He said that Turkey had ratified the convention in parliament, which is why “it is a Constitutional obligation that the withdrawal also takes place with the will of parliament.”

Lawyer Seher Duygu Çildoğan from Ankara Bar Association said that since Turkey pulled out of the convention, the country's LGBTI+ community has faced more attacks. “By saying 'A fraction of society used the convention as a means to normalize homosexuality,' the state showed LGBTI+ individuals as targets,” she said.

After many more people submitted their defenses, the Council of State prosecutor said in their final opinion that the relevant presidential decree is “unlawful” and demanded that it be canceled. 

(English version by Didem Atakan)