Council of State prosecutor says only parliament can quit Istanbul Convention

A Council of State prosecutor has said in a deliberation that only the Turkish Parliament has the power to quit the Istanbul Convention, a landmark treaty on fighting violence against women and which Turkey withdrew from with a presidential decision in 2021.

A woman holds a placard saying, 'We don't want to die,' at a women's rights rally.

Duvar English

Turkey cannot quit the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty on fighting violence against women, with a presidential decision, a prosecutor from Turkey’s Council of State has said in her deliberation.   

The prosecutor said in her opinion that Turkey can only quit the Istanbul Convention with a decision made in parliament, the body that adopted and ratified the Council of Europe treaty in 2012. 

Opposition İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener had filed an application to stop Turkey’s withdrawal in 2021 from the Istanbul Convention.

In her deliberation regarding the withdrawal following Akşener’s application, Nazlı Yanıkdemir, the prosecutor, said only the Turkish Parliament can quit the treaty by removing the law on the international convention or by creating a new law on ending the country’s signature in the treaty.

Only after parliament removes the convention, can a presidential decision be made, she added in her judgement made on March 8 International Women’s Day.

The Council of State’s prosecutors made similar judgements on past applications regarding the international treaty.

A Council of State prosecutor, Aytaç Kurt, said in his opinion in response to an application made the bar association of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır that only parliament can remove an international treaty ratified in parliament.

Another prosecutor said the same in another application filed by opposition Future Party deputy chair in charge of human rights Serap Yazıcı to halt Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed a presidential decree on March 20, 2021, quitting the landmark treaty aimed at protecting women from violence. On July 1, 2021, the country formally left the convention, triggering massive protests and anger from women’s rights groups, who believed the agreement was essential.

Turkey, the first country to ratify the treaty, suffers from high rates of femicide, and violence against women is rife.