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Tunisia judges call for investigation into systematic online smear campaigns

November 3, 2021 at 11:46 am

Tunisian judges stand in a vigil with signs reading in Arabic “for a judicial police supervised by the general prosecution” (R) and “no to violating the sanctity of the judiciary” (L), outside Ben Arous Preliminary court in the locality of the same name near the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 1, 2018 [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

The Association of Tunisian Judges yesterday called on the Public Prosecution to investigate the “systematic online smear campaigns” against a number of its members who have spoken to the media.

The association said in a statement that judicial, administrative, and financial judges speak to the media as part of their duty to inform the public about their work and the content of official reports issued by the judiciary.

It added that the judges express their opinion, in accordance with their rights which have been guaranteed by the constitution.

The association warned that the smear campaigns will affect the judges’ reputation and position within the judiciary and society as well as weaken the guarantees of independence they enjoy and threaten their security and physical integrity.

It went on to call on President Kais Saied and all relevant state institutions to condemn speeches of violence, hatred, defamation, and incitement in order to preserve state institutions, public security, and social peace.

READ: Calls for Tunisia president to set a time limit for his exceptional measures

Saied has held nearly total power since 25 July when he sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament, and assumed executive authority citing a national emergency.

He appointed a prime minister on 29 September and a government has since been formed.

The majority of the country’s political parties slammed the move as a “coup against the constitution” and the achievements of the 2011 revolution. Critics say Saied’s decisions have strengthened the powers of the presidency at the expense of parliament and the government, and that he aims to transform the country’s government into a presidential system.

On more than one occasion, Saied, who began a five-year presidential term in 2019, said that his exceptional decisions are not a coup, but rather measures within the framework of the constitution to protect the state from “imminent danger”.

Is Tunisia's state of emergency being used to restrict freedoms? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Is Tunisia’s state of emergency being used to restrict freedoms? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]