A proposal for an EU Anti-SLAPP law

Renata Rat

01 December 2020

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Proposal for an EU Anti-SLAPP law

Protecting public watchdogs across the EU

This paper was drafted at the initiative of a coalition of non-governmental organisations from across Europe that have been working together over the past years to raise awareness and urge policy makers to protect public watchdogs such as journalists, rights defenders, activists and whistleblowers from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs).

 

SLAPP suits are a form of legal harassment. Pursued by law firms on behalf of powerful individuals and organisations who seek to avoid public scrutiny, their aim is to drain the target’s financial and psychological resources and chill critical voices to the detriment of public participation.

 

Currently, no EU country has enacted targeted rules that specifically shield against SLAPP suits. EU-wide rules providing for strong and consistent protection against SLAPP suits would mark a crucial step forward towards ending this abusive practice in EU Member States and serve as a benchmark for countries in the rest of Europe and beyond. Together with other legislative and non-legislative measures, it would contribute to secure a safer environment for public watchdogs and public participation in the EU.

 

This is why civil society has engaged a wide range of experts including academics, lawyers, practitioners, SLAPP targets and policy and advocacy specialists, to look into the value added, the feasibility and the key components of possible EU anti-SLAPP legislation.

 

This paper is the result of this collaborative work: a model EU anti-SLAPP law proposing a set of rules which, if in place, would make sure that in each EU country SLAPPs are dismissed at an early stage of proceedings, SLAPP litigants pay for abusing the law and the courts, and SLAPP targets are given means and assistance to defend themselves.

 

As democracy and the rule of law come increasingly under pressure in a number of EU countries, this paper supports the call on EU policymakers by the undersigned organisations to urgently put forward an EU anti-SLAPP Directive to protect public watchdogs that help hold the powerful to account and keep the democratic debate alive.

Signatories

ARTICLE 19

Articolo21, liberi di…

Association of European Journalists (AEJ)

Association of European Journalists (AEJBelgium)

Associazione Stampa Romana

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC)

Centre for Peace Studies

Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties)

Civil Rights Defenders

Civil Society Europe

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation

D.i.Re Donne in rete contro la violenza, Italy (network of women’s crisis centres)

Earth League International (ELI)

EUobserver

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

European Civic Forum

European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), within the frameworkof the Observatory for the Protection of
Human Rights Defenders

Forum Trentino per la Pace e i Diritti Umani

FNSI, Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana (The Union of Italian Journalists)

Free Press Unlimited (FPU)

Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)

Greenpeace EU Unit

Government Accountability Project

Guardian News and Media Limited

Human Rights Centre “Antonio Papisca”, University of Padova, Italy

Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)

Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU)

Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC)

IFEX

ILGA-Europe (European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association)

Index on Censorship

International Media Support (IMS)

International Press Institute (IPI)

Justice and Environment (J&E)

Media Defence

Media Diversity Institute (MDI)

NGO Shipbreaking Platform

OMCT (World Organisation Against Torture), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human
Rights Defenders

Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)

Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)

Ossigeno per l’informazione

Oživení

PEN International

Pištaljka

Platform for Independent Journalism (P24)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Rights International Spain (RIS)

Sindacato Cronisti Romani (Regional Journalists’ Union, Italy)

Sindacato Giornalisti del Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol (Regional Journalists’ Union, Italy)

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)

SpeakOut SpeakUp Ltd (United Kingdom)

The Good Lobby

Towarzystwo Dziennikarskie, Poland (Society of Journalists)

Transparency International EU

Umweltinstitut München

UNESCO Chair “Human Rights,Democracy and Peace”, University of Padova

Whistleblowing International Network

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