In Poland, Gazeta Wyborcza has been threatened with over 55 legal threats and OKO.Press have also received an avalanche of legal threats from wealthy business people, companies and politicians. In Slovenia, Necenzurirano is facing 39 legal threats, solely for doing their job. The use of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) and other vexatious lawsuits targeted at journalists, media workers and outlets is prevalent across Europe and places a disproportionate burden on outlets to undertake costly and time intensive court action, if the threats even make it to court. When facing such threats, many outlets may step away from important reporting, avoid certain individuals or organisations or put their resources at risk by having to mount a defence. Abusing the law to target media freedom, gives the powerful, wealthy and thin-skinned too much control over the media landscape in Europe but there is movement. Joining representatives of OKO.Press and Necenzurirano on this panel is Linda Ravo, who alongside a coalition of Europe-based organisations, has worked to realise what a EU anti-SLAPP directive could look like to ensure journalists and outlets are protected across the continent. Chaired by Jonathan McCully, a member of the ECPMF Legal Affairs Committee, this session will also feature an introduction from ECPMF’s Legal Advisor Flutura Kusari to give a continent-wide picture of the use of SLAPPs to stifle criticism and silence journalistic reporting.
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MFRR Summit | Sued into Silence: The use of SLAPPs to intimidate and silence journalists across Europe
March 19 @ 13:30 - 14:30Free
- Piotr Pacewicz, OKO.Press (Poland)
- Linda Ravo, Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Europe-wide)
- Primož Cirman, Necenzurirano (Slovenia)
- Flutura Kusari, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (Kosovo)
- CHAIR: Jonathan McCully, Digital Freedom Fund (UK)
Piotr Pacewicz is Editor-in-Chief of OKO.Press and President of the Foundation for Civic Monitoring OKO. He secured a Doctorate in Psychology at Warsaw University. After Martial Law was imposed in Poland, he became an Editor of ‘Tygodnik Mazowsze’, a newspaper of the underground ‘Solidarność’ movement. In 1989, he took part in the Round Table Talks as a secretary of Bronisław Geremek’s “Solidarity” political group. In 1989, he co-founded Gazeta Wyborcza, where he was a political commentator and opinion writer, before becoming the paper’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief in 1995. Piotr has led a number of social campaigns focused on human rights and equality focusing on gender, LGBTQI rights and tackling anti-Semitism. He has been awarded the Grand Press Award for The Best Interview (2014) and the Special Prize Dariusz Fikus award (2016). In 2016 he founded OKO.Press, an award-winning non-profit, investigative journalism and fact checking project.
Passionate human rights lawyer, Linda holds a PhD in EU law and has more than 10 years of working experience on legal research and analysis, litigation, policy and advocacy work, including in the EU institutions and the NGO sector. Her fields of expertise include rule of law and justice issues and the protection of civic space and rights defenders. Linda supports as senior advisor the work of the Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties), a non-governmental organisation promoting and protecting human rights in the EU which builds on a network of national civil liberties NGOs from 18 EU countries. In this capacity, she leads Liberties’ research and advocacy work on SLAPPs and was tasked by the informal coalition against SLAPPs in Europe to coordinate the drafting of a model EU anti-SLAPP legislation, which is now being used to advocate with the EU institutions for strong EU-wide anti-SLAPP rules.
Primož Cirman is a journalist and editor of Slovenian investigative reporting outlet Necenzurirano.si. He worked for newspapers Delo and Dnevnik, news-site Siol.net and has appeared as a guest commentator of economic and political events in Slovenia on various domestic and foreign TV stations. He’s a receiver of two awards for outstanding achievements in Slovenian journalism (in 2012 and 2018 along with Vesna Vuković). He’s an author of the book NepoTEŠeni (Unfulfilled; 2017) about construction of the largest Slovenian thermal power plant which became a symbol of corruption in Slovenia. He’s a vice president of the Association of Slovenian journalists and a former teaching fellow for journalism studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences of University of Ljubljana.
Flutura Kusari is the Legal Advisor for the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) leading the legal support programme and advocates with international organisations to improve legislation to defend freedom of expression. In addition, she advises journalists on pre- and post- publication legal matters such as defamation, access to information, contempt of court, and privacy. Previously, Flutura has worked for various civil society organisations, including the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and the Kosovar Stability Initiative on human rights, media, rule of law, and the judicial system. She holds a Ph.D. in Media Law from Ghent University, Belgium.
Jonathan McCully is Legal Adviser to the Digital Freedom Fund, an organisation that supports strategic litigation to advance digital rights in Europe. Prior to this role, he held a senior legal position at the Media Legal Defence Initiative, an NGO that provides legal assistance to journalists. He has worked on several significant free speech cases, including cases before the European Court of Human Rights, theEast African Court of Justice, and the UNWGAD. He sits on the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and the Advisory Board of Investigate Europe. He has published widely on freedom of expression, privacy, and intellectual property. He holds an LLB from Trinity College, Dublin and an LLM from the London School of Economics.