Europe: States must better protect public watchdogs from legal abuse

Europe: States must better protect public watchdogs from legal abuse - Protection

The first European Anti-SLAPP Conference, 19 October 2022, Strasbourg

On the occasion of the first European Anti-SLAPP Conference, ARTICLE 19 and partners of the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE) call on governments across Europe to take immediate legislative and practical action to protect journalists and other public watchdogs from the growing threat of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs).

SLAPPs are abusive lawsuits that operate through the litigation and pre-litigation process to silence critical speech, shut down accountability, and undermine democratic rights. Typically pursued by the rich and powerful, SLAPPs misuse and abuse power and privilege, creating a chilling effect on public participation.

Protect journalists and activists from legal threats

Through our advocacy efforts, there has been growing recognition of the need to tackle SLAPPs at the international, regional, and national levels. We are encouraged to see European institutions taking the first landmark step to address abusive litigation which has been illustrated by the Anti-SLAPP Initiative unveiled by the European Commission as well as the Council of Europe’s work to put forward recommendations on the protection of journalists and other public watchdogs to the Member States.

Our declaration provides concrete recommendations to national policymakers across the EU and Council of Europe member states as well as European institutions. Concrete and immediate action is essential to precipitate the work toward the strongest possible set of anti-SLAPP rules.

Read the full declaration

In a  series of interviews, ARTICLE 19 Europe speaks with journalists from Croatia, Poland, Serbia, Spain, and the United Kingdom, who open up about their plight against repeated legal threats aimed at shutting down investigations into abuses of power. 

Find out more about our work on  SLAPPs