A UN human rights spokeswoman has urged Turkey to reassess its decision to withdraw from the European treaty on ‘Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence’ after the move was announced on Saturday.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, the United Nations human rights office voiced concerns over Turkey’s decision to abandon the Istanbul Convention on preventing gender-based violence and the detention of opposition politicians and activists.
“We call on Turkey to reverse its withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, conduct consultations with civil society and women’s groups, and make tangible efforts to promote and protect the safety and rights of all women and girls in Turkey,” UN human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell stated.
In a decree published in the early hours on Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the country would withdraw from the convention which was itself signed in Turkey’s largest city in 2011.
Government officials said that domestic law rather than outside fixes would protect women’s rights.
The move has been heavily criticized both inside and outside Turkey, with Marija Pejcinovic Buric, secretary general of the 47-nation Council of Europe, saying, “This move is a huge setback … and all the more deplorable because it compromises the protection of women in Turkey, across Europe and beyond.”
Throssell also told reporters that the UN was concerned about a spate of arrests of opposition politicians and activists in Turkey. “Vaguely defined terrorism-related charges continue to be brought to target and silence perceived critics,” she noted.
The criticism comes as Erdogan looks to repair ties with Brussels and after Turkey unveiled judicial reforms in March with the aim of meeting EU standards. Ankara has its eyes set on becoming a member of the 27-nation trading bloc, but membership talks have been on hold for years over Turkey’s human rights record and policy differences.
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