Turkey Monitoring Platform on Violations of the Istanbul Convention in GREVIO Election-Process

The Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe is the first convention to combat violence against women and include sexual orientation and gender identity as categories of non-discrimination that Turkey is party to. Article 90 of the Republic of Turkey’s Constitution states that “international agreements duly put into effect have the force of law”. The text below shows the impediments put in place by the ruling government of the Justice and Development Party for the participation of independent NGOs in the monitoring mechanisms of the Convention, a violation of the convention.

Source: “İstanbul Sözleşmesi- Grevio Seçimi: Bu Seçim Yok Hükmündedir!” (“Istanbul Convention- GREVIO Election: This Election should not count!” kaosGL.org, 23 December 2014, http://www.kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=18314

The Istanbul Convention Turkey Monitoring Platform has declared that it will not recognize the GREVIO Election that excludes Women and LGBTI organizations.

The election for the anti-violence expert action group the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) which will monitor the implementation of the convention by state parties took place on 22 December 2014 at a meeting of the Ministry of the Family and Social Policies.

The Istanbul Convention Turkey Monitoring Platform stated that the government cannot prevent violence through associations that they have founded themselves and through the exclusion of Women and LGBTI organizations. The full statement is as follows:

The Government cannot prevent violence through its own associations! 

The Ministry of the Family and Social Policies has decided that the 3 NGOs in the 9 person committee to designate candidates for the Istanbul convention monitoring group GREVIO be KADEM, AK-DER and KASAD-D [NGOs close to the ruling AKP government]. The “election” of the 3 NGOs took place after independent Women and LGBTI organizations left the meeting in response to the Ministry’s complete refusal to assess their objections to methodologies.

The Istanbul Convention, which Turkey signed first and accepted without any reservations thanks to the efforts of independent women’s organizations, came into effect on 1 August 2014. The Istanbul Convention is the most up-to-date and comprehensive text that clearly expresses the root cause of violence against women to be inequality between men and women and that aims to eradicate violence based on gender. Let us not forget the strong allegations that claim efforts by the Minister of the Family and Social Policies, Ayşenur İslam, to withdraw Turkey’s signature from the convention.

Women’s organizations were involved before the Ministry

The Convention requires the formation of a group of experts called GREVIO to monitor the implementation of the convention and to work within the Council of Europe. The Istanbul Convention Monitoring Platform consists of 77 independent women and LGBTI organizations and has been working on the GREVIO candidate designation, implementation and monitoring of the convention for months. The Platform consists of organizations that work in the field of violence against women and violence based on gender, who are experts in this area, who believe in the equality of men and women and who work on non-violence policies at local, national, and international levels. The Platform has submitted many documents to the Ministry of Family and Social Policies on the implementation of the convention, on its request to participate in the GREVIO and relevant processes in Turkey, on the criteria of the candidates and possible names.

The Ministry of Family and Social Policies did not respond to any of these written petitions and requested the participation of civil society only through a text called “The selection of GREVIO candidates” on its website until 15 December. However, merely two days after the deadline, the Ministry declared that the election of the GREVIO candidates would happen in a top-down manner. This method of the Ministry that has no legitimacy consists of a 9 person committee from the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) Equal Opportunities for Women and Men Commission, TBMM Human Rights Monitoring Commission, Assembly of the Council of Europe Parliamentarians, Ministry of Family and Social Policies, Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry (total 6 representatives) and 3 civil society organizations (total 3 representatives). This method aims to exclude independent NGOs and to turn them into an ineffective minority in the eyes of the public.

The Istanbul Convention Monitoring Platform sent a written statement to the Ministry of 19 December with its criticisms of this election methodology and its suggestions, however, this text was also ignored by the Ministry. The Ministry informed some of the Platform members of a 22 December meeting on the GREVIO only 1.5 days before the meeting. The Ministry also required the participating organizations to bring documents showing official signatures and stamps by the organizations’ president, the organizations’ tax and registration numbers, original signature documents and personal IDs, creating many bureaucratic impediments. Even though the platform members submitted the names of their representatives, the Ministry tried to prevent their participation using various excuses. Despite all of this, 33 member-organizations from 10 cities including Istanbul, Ankara, Muş, Antalya, Adana, Adıyaman, Mersin, Bursa, Edirne, and Gaziantep came to Ankara to participate in the meeting. The members of the platform succeeded in participating in the meeting.

We do not accept this anti-democratic method!

The Platform members stated that this sudden meeting that the Ministry’s GREVIO election method stands in contrast to the Istanbul Convention’s clause, that it is anti-democratic, that the real partners are precisely the organizations who have been working in the fields of violence against women, that there should be no election in the meeting, and that even if there is an election it is illegitimate, and that a transparent and inclusive method needs to be set in place. However, these criticisms were also ignored. The Ministry persisted in the election and requested stamps and documents on legal entities to vote and stated that only associations and foundations would be considered civil society. Platform members left the meeting after this.

The NGOs of the Government were elected!

After Platform members left the meeting, the remaining group of 25 people “elected” the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), Association of Women’s Health (KASAD), and Women’s Association against Discrimination (AKDER). These associations have been founded by the Government. The 9 person committee to elect the GREVIO cannot consist of 6 members of the public authority and 3 “elected” associations that are so clearly the government’s choice. This process is illegitimate. The monitoring of an international convention on violence against women cannot be left to the public authority.

The 22 December meeting was organized to select the three civil society organizations to participate in the committee. However, the Turkish Family Platform (TÜRAP) composed of several NGOs and known for its closeness to the Government had already shared the results of this election on social media before the consultation deadline was even reached. This proves that the Ministry’s meeting and consultation with civil society were only for show and that the plan was always to set up a “selection of candidates with a committee composed of public authority”. The fact that TÜRAP consists of members who have no expertise or experience on the issue of violence against women such as the Istanbul Conquerors Scouts’ Group and the HAPKIDO Federation (Korean martial arts) shows that the consultation period did not conform to the Convention’s goals and content and worked in an opaque way.

This election should not count!

These “NGOs” that the Ministry works in tandem with have declared their “campaign” against the Convention’s clauses on the prevention of violence against women as harming “the family structure” and the clauses on non-discrimination against LGBTI individuals as harming “society’s structure”. This new “committee” within the Ministry aims to exclude women and LGBTI organizations from the Istanbul Convention process and to distort the content of the convention as well as to hamper its implementation.

The fact that Turkey has already violated the Convention is proof that we will face new violations in the implementation of the Convention. The Istanbul Convention is the success of women and cannot be implemented with the current Government’s arbitrary decisions. We will not allow actions contrary to the Convention’s goals and contents and will continue to work as the main parties of the Convention. As independent Women and LGBTI organizations, we hereby declare that we will take this impediment to our participation in the process and this violation against the principles of transparency and equal participation to all national and international mechanisms starting with the Council of Europe based on the Istanbul Convention and Council of Europe’s Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process.

Istanbul Convention Turkey Monitoring Platform

Watch the Grevio meeting’s video

Read the Istanbul Convention: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/convention-violence/convention/Convention%20210%20English.pdf

Read about Monitoring: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/convention-violence/AboutMonitoring_en.asp

Signatories:

1.Adana Kadın Dayanışma Merkezi (AKDAM)

2.Adıyaman Kadın Yaşam Derneği (AKAYDER)

3.Adıyaman Kadın Sorunlarını Araştırma ve Çözüm Derneği (AKSAÇ)

4.Amargi İzmir

5.Antalya Kadın Danışma Merkezi ve Dayanışma Derneği

6.Adıyaman Genç Kuşak Girişimci Kadınlar ve İstihdam Derneği

7.Adıyaman Anadolu İş Kadınları Derneği

8.Ayvalik Bagimsiz Kadin Inisiyatifi

9.Bağımsız Kadın Derneği-Mersin

10.Buca Evka -1 Kadın Kültür ve Dayanışma Derneği (BEKEV)

11.Bursa Mor Salkım Kadın Dayanışma  Derneği

12.Ceren Kadın  Derneği

13.Cinsiyet Eşitliği İzleme Derneği (CEİD)

14.Çanakkale Kadın El Emeğini Değerlendirme Derneği (ELDER)

15.Edirne Kadın Merkezi Danışma Derneği

16.Engelli Kadın Derneği

17.Ergani Selis Kadın Derneği

18.EŞİTİZ – Eşitlik İzleme Kadın Grubu

19.Eşit Yaşam Derneği

20.Ev Eksenli Çalışan Kadınlar Grubu

21.Ev Hanımları Derneği (EVKAD)

22.Femin & Art Uluslar Arası Kadın Sanatçılar Derneği (10 Şube)

23.Filmmor Kadın Kooperatifi

24.Gökkuşağı Kadın Derneği

25.İstanbul Feminist Kolektif (İFK)

26.İstanbul LGBTT Dayanışma Derneği

27.İzmir Bağımsız Kadın İnisiyatifi

28.İzmir Barosu Kadın Hakları ve Hukuk Araştırmaları Merkezi

29.İzmir Çiğli Evka 2 Kadın Kültür Derneği (ÇEKEV)

30.İzmir Feminist Kolektif (İzFK)

31.İzmir Kadın Dayanışma Derneği

32.Kadın Cinayetlerine Karşı Acil Önlem Platformu

33.Kadın Çalışmaları Derneği

34.Kadın Eğitim ve İstihdam Derneği

35.Kadın Erkek Birlikte Sosyal Eşitlik Derneği (KEBSED)

36.Kadının İnsan Hakları -Yeni Çözümler Derneği (KİH-YÇ)

37.Kadınlara Hukuki Destek Merkezi (KAHDEM)

38.Kadınlarla Dayanışma Vakfı (KADAV)

39.Kadın Emeği İstihdamı Girişimi (KEİG)

40.Karadeniz Kadın Dayanışma Derneği (KarKad-Der)

41.Karya Kadın Derneği

42.Kadın Adayları Destekleme Derneği  (KA-DER) (Merkez,Şube ve Temsilcilikleri)

43.Kadın Merkezi Vakfı (KAMER) (23 Şube)

44.Kadın Dayanışma Vakfı

45.Kaos Gey ve Lezbiyen Kültürel Araştırmalar ve Dayanışma Derneği (KaosGL)

46.Kapadokya Kadın Dayanışma Derneği

47.Kırmızı Biber Derneği

48.Kırmızı Şemsiye Cinsel Sağlık ve İnsan Hakları Derneği

49.Lambdaİstanbul LGBTİ Dayanışma Derneği

50.Mavigöl Kadın Derneği

51.Medya İzleme Grubu (MEDİZ)

52.Mersin 7 Renk LGBT

53.Mor Çatı Kadın Sığınağı Vakfı

54.MorEl Eskişehir LGBT

55.Muş Kadın Çatısı

56.Muş Kadın Derneği (MUKADDER)

57.Ordu Kadını Güçlendirme Derneği

58.Pembe Hayat LGBTT Dayanışma Derneği

59.Petrol-İş Sendikası Kadın Dergisi

60.Selis Kadın Derneği

61.Siyah Pembe Üçgen İzmir Derneği

62.Sosyal Politikalar Cinsiyet Kimliği ve Cinsel Yönelim Çalışmaları Derneği (SPoD LGBTİ)

63.Sosyalist Feminist Kolektif (SFK)

64.Trabzon Kadın Gelişim ve İletişim Derneği

65.Trans Danışma Merkezi (T-DER)

66.Türk Anneler Derneği Trabzon Şubesi

67.Türk Kadınlar Birliği

68.Türk Üniversiteli Kadınlar Derneği (TÜKD)

69.Türk Tabipler Birliği Kadın Hekimler Kolu

70.Türkiye Kadın Dernekleri Federasyonunu

71.Uçan Süpürge Kadın  İletişim  ve Araştırma Derneği

72.Urfa Yaşamevi Kadın Dayanışma Derneği

73.Yaşam Kadın Çevre Kültür ve İşletme Kooperatifi (YAKA-KOOP)

74.Yaşam Kadın Merkezi Derneği

75.Van Kadın Derneği (VAKAD)

76.Van Saray İlçesi Kadın Çocuk ve Aile İlişkilerini Geliştirme Modernleştirme Koruma ve Güçlendirme Derneği

77.WINPEACE – Türkiye Yunanistan Kadınları Barış Girişimi

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