Powerful and well-resourced individuals across Europe are misusing the justice system to harass or silence journalists and public watchdogs who expose their wrongdoings. Ahead of the European Commission’s proposal of EU-wide measures to stop abusive litigation, the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE) is organising a panel discussion on a growing threat to fundamental rights posed by Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) across Europe. Experts will present the latest research on SLAPPs in Europe and the panel will also highlight testimony of individuals facing SLAPP cases. We are pleased to announce that Věra Jourová, Vice-President and Commissioner for Values and Transparency for the European Commission, will take part in the discussion.
Join us on Wednesday, 16 March at 14:00 CET. We will present the key findings and recommendations from two comprehensive reports on SLAPPs in Europe researched by CASE members ARTICLE 19 and the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, which will be officially launched on the day of the event. The discussion will focus on how to fight SLAPPs at the national and cross-border levels, including through forthcoming measures by the European Commission.
Charlie Holt: Legal Counsel, Greenpeace International
Věra Jourová, Vice-President and Commissioner for Values and Transparency, European Commission
Catherine Belton, Journalist, author of ‘Putin’s People’
Veronika Feicht, Agricultural Policy Campaigner, Munich Environmental Institute
Sarah Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia Team, ARTICLE 19
Corinne Vella, Head of Media Relations, Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation
The panellists will address the following issues:
- How do SLAPPs and the threat of vexatious lawsuits affect the work and life of public watchdogs?
- What are the key common patterns in SLAPP cases brought against journalists and activists across Europe?
- Why and how do SLAPPs pose a threat to fundamental rights?
- What should robust EU and national level anti-SLAPP measures address?
On 1 February 2022, CASE representatives, together with individuals affected by SLAPPs, handed over 200,000 signatures to Vice President Jourová, calling on the European Commission to propose robust measures to combat SLAPPs in Europe. In its submission to the Commission’s consultation, CASE underscored the importance of measures that would address the full scale of the problem – encompassing both cross-border and domestic SLAPPs in the EU.
Vice President Jourová assured our delegation that the EU proposal would include binding legislation concerning cross-border SLAPP cases, recommendations to States, financial measures for the training of judges, as well as financial aid for independent journalists or those working for small outlets who are facing SLAPPs. CASE members are prepared to review an EU anti-SLAPP initiative that the European Commission is set to present on 27 April.
ARTICLE 19’s report is based on in-depth research on SLAPP litigation against journalists in 11 countries across Europe over the last four years. In this report, ARTICLE 19 elaborates on the concept of SLAPPs and outlines applicable international standards on freedom of expression and legal protection of the media. The report highlights key patterns from case studies and analyses domestic legislation, in particular provisions that are most commonly misused to file SLAPPs. Finally, ARTICLE 19 puts forward recommendations to combat SLAPPs at both the national and international level.
The Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE) report analyses data from over 500 legal cases from 30 jurisdictions in Europe, collected between 2019 and 2021. On behalf of CASE, The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation analysed the data to identify common patterns and trends and demonstrate the scale and nature of the SLAPP problem on the continent. CASE will continue recording these cases and mapping SLAPPs in Europe.