In recent years, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) have mushroomed worldwide, becoming one of the most notorious tactics exploited by rich and powerful politicians and business people to silence journalists who investigate corruption, misconduct and other abuses of power. Vexatious lawsuits and legal harassment pose a direct threat to the very core of democracy that is embodied in a checks and balance system and holding power to account.
ARTICLE 19 Europe and Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT) are organising a panel discussion on the rise in legal actions brought against journalists at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia. Together with our distinguished speakers Bojana Jovanović and Roberto Saviano, we will explore how to tackle SLAPPs in Europe and what we should expect from the European Union in this process.
Watch the full recording here
In 2017, the dramatic killing of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who at the time of her assassination had 47 vexatious lawsuits pending against her, drew the attention of public opinion, civil society and policymakers to the magnitude of the SLAPP phenomenon in Europe. The anti-SLAPP movement that arose following her death engaged civil society organisations across Europe and has led to the issue of anti-SLAPP solutions being prioritised on the agenda of the EU and the Council of Europe. In April 2022, the EU Commission presented its anti-SLAPP Directive proposal, while the Council of Europe is in the process of finalising a Recommendation addressing the same theme.
The objective of the panel co-organised by ARTICLE 19 Europe and OBCT, as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response Mechanism, is to highlight the phenomenon of SLAPPs at the national level and unpack anti-SLAPP developments at the European level. By bringing together advocacy experts, along with SLAPP survivors from Serbia and Italy, the panel will offer an overview of the progress and the state of play both at the domestic and European levels, while addressing the remaining challenges that media professionals and advocates still face in Europe.