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Urgent Interventions

Call for action: Protecting public watchdogs across the EU: a proposal for an EU Anti-Slapp Law

This paper was drafted[1]at the initiative of a coa-lition of non-governmental organisations from acrossEurope that have been working together over the past years to raise awarenessand urge policy makers to protect public watchdogs such as journalists, rightsdefenders, activists and whistleblowers from Strategic Lawsuits Against PublicParticipation (SLAPPs)[2].

SLAPPsuits are a form of legal harassment. Pursued by law "rms on behalf ofpowerful in-dividuals and organisations who seek to avoid public scrutiny,their aim is to drain the tar-get’s "nancial and psychological resourcesand chill critical voices to the detriment of public participation.

Currently,no EU country has enacted targeted rules that speci"cally shield againstSLAPP suits. EU-wide rules providing for strong and consistent protectionagainst SLAPP suits would mark a crucial step forward towardsendingthis abusive practice in EU Member States and serve as a benchmark forcountries in the rest of Europe and beyond. Together with other legislative andnon-legislative measures, it would contribute to secure a safer environment forpublic watchdogs and public participation in the EU.

This is why civil society has engaged a wide range of expertsincluding academics, lawyers, practitioners, SLAPP targets and policy andadvocacy specialists, to look into the value added, the feasibility and the keycomponents of possible EU anti-SLAPP legislation.

This paper is the result of this collaborative work: a modelEU anti-SLAPP law proposing a set of rules which, if in place, would make surethat in each EU country SLAPPs are dismissed at an early stage of proceedings,SLAPP litigants pay for abusing the law and the courts, and SLAPPtargets are given means and assistance to defend themselves.

Asdemocracy and the rule of law come in-creasingly under pressure in a number ofEU countries, this paper supports the call on EU policymakers by theundersigned organisations to urgently put forward an EU anti-SLAPP Directive toprotect public watchdogs that help hold the powerful to account and keep thedemocratic debate alive.



· Articolo21,liberi di...

· Associationof European Journalists (AEJ)

· Associationof European Journalists (AEJ Belgium)

· AssociazioneStampa Romana

· BulgarianHelsinki Committee (BHC)

· Centrefor Peace Studies

· CivilLiberties Union for Europe (Liberties)

· CivilRights Defenders

· CivilSociety Europe

· Committeeto Protect Journalists (CPJ)

· The Daphne Caruana GaliziaFoundation

· D.i.ReDonne in rete contro la violenza, Italy (network of women’s crisis centres)

· EarthLeague International (ELI)

· Euobserver

· EuropeanCentre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

· EuropeanCivic Forum

· EuropeanEnvironmental Bureau (EEB)

· EuropeanFederation of Journalists (EFJ)

· FIDH(International Federation for Human Rights), within the framework of theObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

· ForumTrentino per la Pace e i Diritti Umani

· FNSI,Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana (The Union of Italian Journalists)

· FreePress Unlimited (FPU)

· GlobalForum for Media Development (GFMD)

· GreenpeaceEU Unit

· GovernmentAccountability Project

· GuardianNews and Media Limited

· HumanRights Centre

· HumanRights Centre “Antonio Papisca”, University of Padova, Italy

· HumanRights House Foundation (HRHF)

· HungarianCivil Liberties Union (HCLU)

· HungarianHelsinki Committee (HHC)


· ILGA-Europe(European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans andIntersex Association)

· Indexon Censorship

· InternationalMedia Support (IMS)

· InternationalPress Institute (IPI)

· Justiceand Environment (J&E)

· LegalHuman Academy

· MediaDefence

· MediaDiversity Institute (MDI)

· MediaFreedom Rapid Response (MFRR)

· MightyEarth

· NGOShipbreaking Platform

· OMCT(World Organisation Against Torture), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protectionof Human Rights Defenders

· OrganizedCrime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)

· OsservatorioBalcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)

· Ossigenoper l’informazione

· Oživení

· PENInternational

· Pištaljka

· Platformfor Independent Journalism (P24)

· ReportersWithout Borders (RSF)

· RightsInternational Spain (RIS)

· SindacatoCronisti Romani (Regional Journalists’ Union, Italy)

· SindacatoGiornalisti del Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol (Regional Journalists’ Union,Italy)

· SouthEast Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)

· SpeakOutSpeakUp Ltd (United Kingdom)

· The Good Lobby

· TowarzystwoDziennikarskie, Poland (Society of Journalists)

· TransparencyInternational EU

· UmweltinstitutMünchen

· UNESCOChair “Human Rights, Democracy and Peace”, University of Padova

· WhistleblowingInternational Network

[1] This paper was authored by an expert working groupcomposed of dr. Linda Maria Ravo, expert consultant to the Civil LibertiesUnion for Europe (Lead Author and Principal Investigator), dr. JustinBorg-Barthet, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Private International Law, Universityof Aberdeen (Co-Investigator) and Prof. dr. Xandra Kramer, professor at ErasmusSchool of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam and at the Faculty of Law,Economics and Governance of Utrecht University (Co-Investigator). The authors are thankful tospecialist practitioners and scholars who acted as peer reviewers of the text. The usual disclaimer applies.

[2] The initiative was "financially supported by Article19, the Civil Liberties Union for Europe, the Committee to Protect Journalists,the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, the European Federation ofJournalists, Free Press Unlimited, Greenpeace European Unit, the InternationalPress Institute, NGO Shipbreaking Platform, Pen International and ReportersWithout Borders.

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