Poland’s ruling party distances itself from a plan to leave Istanbul Convention

Poland’s conservative ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) distanced itself on Sunday from a proposal by the justice minister to withdraw from a European treaty on violence against women, news wires reported. “Decisions have not been taken. This is not our common stance. The minister has some idea. If he submits (his proposal) we will analyse it,” PiS spokeswoman Anita Czerwinska said.

On Saturday Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, who represents a smaller right-wing party within the ruling coalition, said that his ministry would submit a request to the labour and families ministry on Monday to begin the process of withdrawing from the treaty. Ziobro said that Poland has sufficient legal tools to protect victims of domestic violence and that the treaty violates parents’ rights by requiring schools to teach children about gender.

PiS and its coalition partners closely align themselves with the Catholic Church have previously criticised the Istanbul Convention as too liberal but not adopted any policy for a withdrawal. But on Sunday PiS officials took a step back. Also the government spokesman Piotr Muller said the cabinet has not decided over the treaty. Poland ratified the convention under a previous centrist government in 2015.

Quitting the treaty would likely become another bone of contention between Poland and the EU, which has been critical of PiS’ policies that the union said undermine democracy.

Protests, called “Women’s Strike” erupted on Friday in Warsaw and other cities against the government intention to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention.

Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric said on Sunday that Poland should not withdraw from the treaty. Formally, the parliament will have to adopt new legislation to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, which will then need to be signed by the president, Andrzej Duda. Duda has been critical of the treaty in the past.

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