On 12 July 2023, ARTICLE 19, in collaboration with other freedom of expression organisations in Latin America, is holding a public hearing on strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) in Latin America before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the Commission) and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. The public hearing is the first time that the Commission will hear about the threat that SLAPPs present to journalists and media in the region.
At the hearing, which highlights examples of SLAPPs in the region, the organisations urge the Commission to recognise the danger of SLAPPs and agree on action to address this problem. In particular, we call for creation of a regional expert group to develop regional standards and recommendations on SLAPPs within the Inter-American human rights system. We also urge the Special Rapporteur to prepare a thematic report that examines the scale and impact of SLAPPs in the region that can serve as the basis for development of a regional standard.
There has been limited attention to the problem of SLAPPs in Latin America, despite the significant threat they pose to freedom of expression, media freedom, freedom of assembly, and other human rights. They seriously undermine the activities of journalists, human rights defenders, protesters, and activists who already face numerous threats of violence, harassment and persecution. While international and regional human rights bodies are developing dedicated standards on SLAPPs, the Commission has so far not addressed the problem specifically.
ARTICLE 19 and the organisations participating in the hearing urge the Commission to dedicate much-needed attention to the problem of SLAPPs – both on the level of standards and of practice. In particular, the Commission should take decisive steps to develop comprehensive guidance for States and other stakeholders on measures that must be adopted to respond to SLAPPs in the region.
The hearing will provide evidence about the types and impact of SLAPPs in the region, including through testimonies of journalists facing multiple abusive litigation tactics and long, burdensome and costly litigations in several countries in the region.
Details of the public hearing
Date: 12 July 2023
Time: 3:00 pm ET
Registration available via this link.
Paulina Gutiérrez, ARTICLE 19
Rodolfo Ruiz, e-Consulta, México
Catalina Ruiz Navarro, Volcánicas, Colombia
Paola Ugaz, journalist, Perú
Joao Cuenca, journalist, Brazil
Juan Luis Font, journalist, Guatemala
Raissa Carrillo, Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa
Organisations and institutions endorsing and participating in the public hearing
Foro de Periodismo Argentino, FOPEA (Argentina)
Asociación Brasileña de Periodismo Investigativo, Abraji (Brasil)
Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa, FLIP (Colombia)
El Veinte (Colombia)
Instituto DEMOS (Guatemala)
Columbia Global Freedom of Expression (GFoE)
Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad, IPYS (Perú)
Full calendar of the 187 Period of Public Hearings available here.