By a midnight decree on 19th of March, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention, the international treaty which aims to prevent violence against women and girls.
As women’s protests continue all over the country against the decision taken by Erdogan, a debate has begun regarding Erdogan’s withdrawal from an international treaty, bypassing and ignoring Turkey’s constitution and national parliament.
Jin news spoke to a feminist lawyer, Zekiye Karacaboz about the issue and the possible steps that should be taken.
Karacaboz noted that withdrawal from an international agreement simply by a decision of Erdogan is not possible and that a lawsuit should be filed at the Council of State to start a legal process against the decision.
Karacaboz underlined the power of international treaties over the constitution and stated that withdrawal from it is only possible if a new law is adopted by the national parliament.
“The Convention came into force on 1 August 2014 in Turkey. Withdrawing from international treaties requires a legal process as well,” Karacaboz said, “Moreover, international conventions have stronger protection than national laws. Withdrawal from the convention is only possible with a law adopted by the Turkish Grand National Assembly.”
‘Article 3 of the decree is unconstitutional’
Karacaboz stated that the contract is still in force since there is no valid withdrawal, however, a lawsuit should be filed at the Council of State to start a legal process against the decision. “Anyone who will be affected by the decision can open a case,” she said, “In this case, it should also be claimed that Article 3 of the Presidential Decree No. 9, which is shown as the basis in the President’s decision, is unconstitutional.”
The provisions of this decree that authorize the President to suspend the implementation of international conventions and to terminate them are contrary to the Turkish constitution, according to Karacaboz. “The authority to annul international conventions lies only in the Turkish Grand National Assembly as per the constitution. The Presidential decree should be annulled by the Constitutional Court in the face of such clear provisions in the constitution,” the feminist lawyer said.
‘The next target will be the law 6284’
Turkey signed the convention in 2011 and one year later adopted law No. 6284 (Law to Protect Family and Prevent Violence against Women) in 2012.
Karacaboz shared her suspicion that the next target will be the “national laws” protecting women starting with the law No. 6284.
Despite the fact that law No.6284 is one of the most powerful tools that protect women against violence in Turkey, like the Istanbul Convention itself, there are various problems with its implementation.
“Their aim is not simply the treaty, they are attacking all the gains of women in Turkey,” Karacaboz said.
She is concerned about the increase in levels of domestic violence in Turkey after the President’s decision. This decision to withdraw from the convention is “not an ordinary decision”, Karacaboz underlined, “The constitution is flouted. It is just an announcement that every decision will be taken in this way from now on, in short, the constitution will not be taken into account anymore. I think the democratic opposition should analyze the decision like this.”
‘The most powerful movement in Turkey is the women’s movement’
Karacaboz stressed the “power of the women’s movement” in Turkey. “We all know that the most powerful movement in Turkey is the women’s movement,” she said, “Various campaigns are being organized by women against the decree already. The women are dedicated to struggle.”
Today, the women in Turkey are the ones “who speak the most on the streets and squares,” Karacaboz said, “This is the reason why they have been targeted this much. They could not silence women and they will not be able to. Women will continue to defend their lives and rights everywhere.”