By Jane Whyatt
Day 2 of the #UNCOVERED 2021 online conference took participants behind the scenes of some of the most important stories of the decade.
The themes of collaboration and innovation ran through all the sessions and workshops, and the way the media freedom community has united to oppose SLAPPs was eloquently explained in the debate chaired by Flutura Kusari, legal advisor of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF). SLAPPs are Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation – in other words, lawsuits that represent an abuse of the legal system to try to intimidate journalists and publishers or ruin them financially.
SLAPPS aim to silence criticism
As Flutura Kusari pointed out, the ECPMF is playing a leading role in the new CASE group of organisations calling for a European Union Directive to combat SLAPPs. It already has some support in Brussels – panel member Viola von Cramon-Taubadel MEP stressed:
”The situation is depressing, but I’m optimistic that we can achieve something.”
Swedish SLAPP victim Per Agerman described the Realtid case at the High Court in London: “In Sweden, you can only sue the editor responsible. By going to London they could bypass the Swedish constitution”.
Cross-border collaboration is clearly essential in such cases, and this is one of more than 70 which ECPMF’s Legal Support helps to fund. Through a partnership between ECPMF and the Justice for Journalists Fund (JFJ), SLAPP cases can be identified, checked, challenged and publicised, and JFJ’s Maria Ordzhonikidze joined the panel to describe their role.