European Commission proposes anti-SLAPP legislation
Proposed directive seeks to curb efforts to silence journalists and human rights defenders.
Strategic lawsuits against public participation, commonly referred to as “SLAPPs”, are abusive litigation efforts brought forward by powerful actors and are used to harass and silence individuals from speaking out in the public interest. SLAPPs have been a thorn in the side of countless public interest causes, threatening democracy and fundamental rights, access to justice and judicial cooperation, freedom of speech and the enforcement of EU law.
As reported by CASE, the use of these lawsuits have been on the rise in Europe over the past number of years, jumping from 4 cases being recorded annually to 114 per year in less than a decade. Work to eradicate these damaging efforts has been long overdue.
Eurocadres welcomes the Commission’s proposal as a first step, and are pleased to see many of our demands included in the draft text, including (but not limited to):
- An EU directive establishing minimum standards, which should protect victims while preventing and sanctioning the misuse of anti-SLAPP measures
- The prevention of ‘libel tourism’ or ‘forum shopping’ through uniform and predictable defamation rules, reform of Brussels I and Rome II Regulations
- Sanctions for the claimant if they fail to justify why their action is not abusive, rules to ensure the consideration of abusive motives even if early dismissal is not granted, and the payment of costs and damages suffered by the victim
- Financial aid for legal and psychological help for victims of SLAPPs
– SLAPPs have played a hugely detrimental role in Europe for a number of years, blatantly persecuting those who wish to highlight matters of public interest. We welcome the Commission’s proposal, and call for quick agreement on the text between institutions and Member States” – Eurocadres President Nayla Glaise.
Reacting to the Commission proposal, Eurocadres President Nayla Glaise stated: “Journalists and human rights defenders should be free to shed light on injustices, no matter who they come from. For too long powerful actors have been successfully stifling freedom of speech, and making a mockery of our fundamental rights and judicial system.
SLAPPs have played a hugely detrimental role in Europe for a number of years, blatantly persecuting those who wish to highlight matters of public interest. We welcome the Commission’s proposal, and call for quick agreement on the text between institutions and Member States. These measures must be enshrined in European and national law as a matter of urgency”.
Eurocadres will continue to work on the adoption and transposition of this proposed directive over the coming months.