Protecting journalists and rights defenders: Commission asks for views on measures against abusive litigation

Today, the Commission has launched a public consultation on EU action against abusive litigation targeting journalists and rights defenders (Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation -SLAPP). The consultation will feed into the upcoming initiative against SLAPP, to be presented by the Commission, as announced in the European Democracy Action Plan. Vice-President Věra Jourová, said: “Daphne Caruana Galizia had 47 abusive law suits known as SLAPP at the time of her assassination. Journalists and rights defenders should be the watchdogs of our democracies, not legally harassed for keeping in check those in power. The public consultation will help us to understand what we need to do to protect them.” Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, added: “SLAPP is a threat to democratic values and fundamental rights. SLAPPs misuse legal and judiciary systems to censor, intimidate and silence journalists a nd rights’ defenders. The Commission’s initiative will address this threat and help ensure the proper functioning of the checks and balances of a healthy democracy.” The anti-SLAPP initiative is part of the European Democracy Action Plan, which noted that such practices are increasingly used across many Member States, in an environment where hostile activity against journalists is growing. Citizens, journalists, Member States, NGOs, civil society, judges, legal professionals are invited to express their views. The public consultation is available here and will be open until 10 January 2022. Recently the Commission adopted a Recommendation on safety of journalists and it will continue its actions to protect media freedom and pluralism with its work on a new European Media Freedom Act as announced by President von der Leyen in 2021 State of the Union.