The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

200,000-strong petition for EU anti-SLAPP law delivered to European Commissioner

Tuesday, 1 February 2022, 14:24 Last update: about 4 months ago

A petition with over 200,000 signatures that calls for an EU directive against SLAPP suits was delivered on Tuesday to the European Commissioner for values and transparency, Vera Jourová.

The petition was presented by representatives of the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE), together with two individuals affected by SLAPP suits.

The petition, launched in July 2021 by the organisations Rainforest Rescue and the Munich Environmental Institute, who are themselves facing SLAPPs, calls on the European Commission to propose an Anti-SLAPP Directive that effectively protects all those affected by vexatious litigation across the EU.

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SLAPP cases on the rise across Europe

The number of people and organisations across the EU being targeted by so-called SLAPP lawsuitsis constantly increasing. SLAPPs are abusive lawsuits filed with the purpose of shutting down acts of public participation, including public interest journalism, peaceful protest or boycotts, advocacy or whistleblowing.

Wealthy and powerful individuals abuse the law to force their critics into time-consuming and costly legal proceedings aimed at silencing them. Given the threat to fundamental rights posed by SLAPPs, CASE considers a strong EU antiSLAPP law necessary to protect democratic values, such as freedom of expression and the right to protest across the EU. An anti-SLAPP EU directive, as detailed in the Model EU Directive drafted by the CASE coalition, would provide a high and uniform level of protection against SLAPPs in all EU countries and serve as a model across the continent.

 

More than 200,000 citizens, 170+ civil society groups urge change

CASE presented the call by 200,000+ people for strong legal safeguards against SLAPPS to Vice President Jourová on the heels of the public consultation that the Commission launched to map the SLAPP phenomenon.

More than 170 Civil Society groups from across Europe have joined the call, including the Coalition for Women in Journalism, European Studies Organisation, Malta, and Maltese NGOs Aditus, Repubblika, and PEN Malta, inspired by the experience of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who faced multiple SLAPPs now inherited by her family.

The 146 submissions by stakeholders were thus backed by the voices of hundreds of thousands of people across Europe, who want the EU to put an end to the abuse of the justice system via SLAPPs.

In its own submission to the Commission’s consultation, CASE argues that any measures introduced by the Commission must address the full scale of the problem - encompassing both cross-border and domestic SLAPPs. The Commission is set to present an EU-wide anti-SLAPP initiative on 23 March.

 

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