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50th session of the Human Rights Council
13 June 2022 to 8 July 2022
Agenda Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers
20 June 2022
Oral statement submitted by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
The Association for Progressive Communications welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur and the opportunity to engage in this dialogue.
We welcome the focus on the protection of persons exercising legal functions and the concerns raised due to the increase in practices that undermine, restrict and hinder their work. We especially welcome the concerns raised regarding the proliferation of smear and defamation campaigns against legal professionals on social media, particularly the campaigns allegedly carried out by state authorities.
This issue is of particular concern in Tunisia, where women judges are the target of online gendered attacks. During a recent speech, the Tunisian president recited charges – including adultery – under which he dismissed 57 judges. Following the president’s speech, social media accounts that support the government published documents leaked from the investigation files of two of the dismissed women judges. These documents included medical, police and National Guard reports about the judges committing adultery, violating their rights to privacy and integrity, among others. 
Online gendered attacks like this one often have the goal of delegitimising women’s work and reputation and deterring them from participating in public life. High-profile women are often the targets of these types of attacks that present malign intent, coordination, and usually use false or misleading gender- and sex-based narratives.
We encourage the Special Rapporteur to address this issue in future reports and to work with other mandates to deepen the understanding of disinformation campaigns toward women judges and lawyers.
 https://euromedmonitor.org/en/article/5165/Tunisia:-President-Kais-Saied-dismisses,-leads-smear-campaign-against-judges and https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20220606-tunisia-judges-go-on-strike-over-saied-interference-after-57-colleagues-sacked