Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, which takes effect today, is deeply regrettable and should be reversed, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) said on Thursday.
The Istanbul Convention, officially known as Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, is a regional human rights instrument that aims to protect women against all forms of violence and hold perpetrators accountable.
“The adoption of this (withdrawal) decision in the midst of the COVID- 19 pandemic has the potential to deepen the protection gap for women and girls during a time when gender-based violence against women is on the rise,” CEDAW said in a statement.
“Such an unprecedented act cannot, and does not, have a valid ground and justification,” the Committee continued.
The Istanbul Convention was opened for signature in May 2011 in Istanbul. To date, 35 member states of the Council of Europe have ratified or acceded to the treaty. Turkey notified the European Council its withdrawal from the convention in March this year.
“By disengaging from its international commitments to fight domestic and other forms of gender-based violence against women, Turkey undermines the recognition of peremptory norms of international law such as the prohibition of torture, femicide, and other grievous forms of gender-based violence,” CEDAW said.
The Committee voiced serious concern that the protection from violence for women and girls in Turkey risked being undermined further as a result of the country’s withdrawal from the Convention.
CEDAW urged Turkey to reconsider its decision as a matter of highest priority and by all possible means. At the same time, it invited Turkey to strengthen its dialogue and cooperation with the Committee.