EU justice ministers agree on anti-SLAPP law

EU justice ministers agreed on Friday (9 June) on their position regarding the anti-SLAPP draft law aimed at protecting journalists against intimidating lawsuits.

“Freedom of expression and free media are crucial to the functioning of our European democracies, and our free and open societies,” said Gunnar Strömmer, Swedish minister for justice, whose country currently holds the rotating EU council presidency.

“Now that we have reached a general approach, we move towards a stronger protection for journalists, human rights defenders and others who engage in public debate,” he added.

The agreement paves the way to start negotiations with the European Parliament to finalize the law, although MEPs still need to agree on their position. 

A total of 281 amendments were tabled by MEPs, and are yet to be voted in the parliament’s committee of legal affairs.

Under the council agreement, a court can decide to require the person or company who started a SLAPP case to provide financial security for the costs of the proceedings. 

Since SLAPP cases often aim to financially wear out a journalist or a media organization, the new rules could allow a court to oblige the claimant to bear the costs of the proceedings, including the costs of legal representation of the SLAPP victim.

If a court detects abusive proceedings, it can decide to impose penalties or other appropriate measures on the person, company or lobby group who brought the proceedings.

A 2022 report from the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE) found that journalists (34.2%), newspapers (23%), activists (9.8%), and editors (9.5%), among others, have been increasingly targeted by lawsuits.

The highest number of lawsuits in Europe was recorded in 2020, followed by 2021 and 2019.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was facing more than 40 lawsuits at the time of her assassination.

“SLAPPs represent a serious threat to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and to the right to acquire information for public interest,” said y Dunja Mijatović, Commissioner for Human Rights of Strasbourg-based Council of Europe in 2022.

Last year, 86 journalists and media workers were killed worldwide.

AEJ Belgium is calling for the quick adoption of this law to protect journalists and media organisations against abusive litigation.

The term SLAPP was coined in the 1980s by George Pring and Penelope Canan after a surge of abusive lawsuits aimed to silence those exercising their rights or freedom of expression in matters of public interest. 

1 thought on “EU justice ministers agree on anti-SLAPP law”

  1. Pingback: Brussels Media Express – volume 2 – AEJ BELGIUM

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top