The EU anti-SLAPP directive was drafted at the initiative of a coalition of non-governmental organisations from across Europe that have been working together over the past years to raise awareness and urge policy makers to protect public watchdogs such as journalists, rights defenders, activists and whistle-blowers from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs).
SLAPP lawsuits are used to censor and intimidate critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defence until they abandon their opposition. These suits are not only aimed at media outlets, but individual journalists, who have been targeted in their personal capacity. Many of these journalists face heavy fines, bans from journalism, and even custodial sentences as a result of baseless legal claims. This type of litigation is designed to drain resources and chill critical reporting, and is becoming increasingly common across Europe and around the world.
Currently, no EU member state has enacted targeted rules that specifically shield against SLAPP suits. EU-wide rules providing for strong and consistent protection against SLAPP suits would mark a crucial step forward towards ending this abusive practice in EU member states and serve as a benchmark for countries in the rest of Europe and beyond. Together with other legislative and non-legislative measures, it would contribute to secure a safer environment for public watchdogs and public participation in the EU.
This is why civil society has engaged a wide range of experts including academics, lawyers, practitioners, SLAPP victims and policy and advocacy specialists, to look into the value added, the feasibility and the key components of possible EU anti-SLAPP legislation. This paper is the result of this collaborative work: a model EU anti-SLAPP legislation proposing a set of rules which, if in place, would make sure that in each EU country SLAPPs are dismissed at an early stage of proceedings, SLAPP litigants pay for abusing the law and the courts, and SLAPP targets are given means and assistance to defend themselves.
As democracy and the rule of law come increasingly under pressure in a number of member states, this paper supports the call on EU policymakers by the undersigned organisations to urgently put forward an EU anti-SLAPP Directive to protect public watchdogs that help hold the powerful to account and keep the democratic debate alive.
Read the anti-SLAPP directive in full here.
If you have been targeted by a SLAPP suit, click here.
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This application guide is for organisations applying to become a funded partner of Media Defence. Attached files: Funded Partner Organisation – Application Guide
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