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25 Jul 2020

International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

ICNL releases report on protecting activists from abusive litigation

"Protecting Activists from Abusive Litigation", July 2020

In Protecting Activists from Abusive Litigation: SLAPPs in the Global South and How to Respond, ICNL presents the first cross-regional survey of SLAPPs in the Global South, along with the first rigorous comparative analysis of anti-SLAPP policy responses undertaken in the Global North and the Global South. Our survey shows that SLAPPs pose a serious threat to the exercise of fundamental freedoms in the Global South, particularly for activists, civil society organizations, journalists, and community members who dare to criticize powerful entities.


We offer eight recommendations for how further anti-SLAPP responses in the Global South should be designed:

  1. Exhibit care in designing and advancing these responses;
  2. Focus initial anti-SLAPP efforts on bolstering protections for public participation;
  3. Reform defamation laws to eliminate criminal liability, or to establish protections aimed at preventing the abuse of criminal defamation suits;
  4. Implement expedited dismissal procedures, cost-shifting mechanisms, and damages provisions in defamation cases arising out of non-commercial communications on matters of public interest;
  5. Authorize more stringent penalties when a court finds a defamation claim was filed for purposes of harassment, including veil-piercing personal liability and a bar on filing related claims;
  6. Accomplish reforms by legislative act or presidential or prime ministerial decree;
  7. Undertake further study to assess the prevalence of SLAPPs in Southern jurisdictions, and to identify other causes of action which should be subject to reforms like those outlined above; and
  8. Explore novel responses that address deficits and gaps in the approaches implemented to date in the North and South, or which better respond to the specific local characteristics of SLAPPs.

Full report can be accessed here.