Turkish court says Erdogan had right to annul women's treaty

·2-min read

Turkey's top court on Tuesday ruled that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had the right to pull his country out of a European convention against gender-based violence.

Rights groups and Western governments voiced shock and outrage when Erdogan cancelled Turkey's membership of the Istanbul Convention in an overnight decree last year.

Erdogan's political opponents argued the president did not have the power to unilaterally annul membership of an international agreement.

Turkey became the first country to sign the convention in 2011 and ratified it by vote in parliament the following year.

But the top administrative court on Tuesday rejected a request to overturn Erdogan's decision in a case involving testimony from leading women's rights groups and legal scholars.

The court's five judges ruled in a 3-2 vote that a president's decision could not be subject to a legal review.

The two dissenting judges said in a separate opinion that Erdogan's actions overstepped his legal bounds.

A lawyer representing the We Will Stop Femicide Platform rights organisation said the ruling was "tantamount to rejecting the constitution".

"It is terrifying from a legal perspective," lawyer Ipek 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 that strictly punishes domestic abuse and gender-based violence.

But Erdogan's Islamic conservative supporters argued that its language harmed traditional family values and promoted LGBTQ rights.

Erdogan's main opponents in next year's general election immediately rose to the treaty's defence.

Main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu vowed to sign Turkey back up to the convention should he become president in the July 2023 vote.

"I can make a promise to the nation," the CHP party leader said.

"When we come to power -- and we will, with God's permission and the nation's approval -- in the first week, even in the first 24 hours, we will implement the Istanbul Convention," Kilicdaroglu told reporters.

Nationalist Iyi (Good) Party leader Meral Aksener accused the court of issuing "a political decision (aimed) at pleasing a dirty mind".

bg-zak/lcm

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