The EU must end gag lawsuits used to silence individuals and organisations that hold those in positions of power to account. Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) are lawsuits brought forward by powerful actors (e.g. companies, public officials in their private capacity, high profile persons) to harass and silence those speaking out in the public interest. Typical victims are those with a watchdog role, for instance: journalists, activists, informal associations, academics, trade unions, media organisations and civil society organisations.
Recent examples of SLAPPs include PayPal suing SumOfUs for a peaceful protest outside PayPal’s German headquarters; co-owners of Malta’s Satabank suing blogger Manuel Delia for a blog post denouncing money laundering at Satabank; and Bollore Group suing Sherpa and ReAct in France to stop them from reporting human rights abuses in Cameroon. In Italy more than 6,000 or two-thirds of defamation lawsuits filed against journalists and media outlets annually are dismissed as meritless by a judge. When Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was brutally killed, there were 47 SLAPPs pending against her.
Civil Society Europe is among the 119 signatories to a paper asking EU institutions to end SLAPPs by:
- proposing at EU level a Directive that would establish a Union-wide minimum standard of protection against SLAPPs
- reviewing certain provisions in current regulations (Brussels I and Rome II ) that facilitate gag lawsuits
- supporting financially and morally victims of SLAPPs
- ensuring that the scope of anti-SLAPP measures include everybody affected by SLAPPs, including journalists, activists, trade unionists, academics, digital security researchers, human rights defenders, media and civil society organisations, among others
Please find here the full paper.