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13 Jun 2021

SLAPPs brought across the globe to intimidate & silence human rights defenders raising concerns about business practice

Between January 2015 - May 2021, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (Resource Centre) recorded more than 3,100 attacks worldwide against community leaders, farmers, workers, unions, journalists, civil society groups, and other defenders who have raised the alarm about irresponsible business practices. More than 40% of these attacks were forms of judicial harassment; strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are one of these tactics.

This first-ever global analysis of lawsuits which bear the hallmarks of SLAPPs brought or initiated by business actors reveals that this tactic is used in every region of the world to intimidate people into silence.

Key findings include:

  • The Resource Centre identified 355 cases that cases that bear the hallmarks of SLAPPs brought or initiated by business actors since 2015 against individuals and groups related to their defense of human rights and/or the environment
  • The highest number of SLAPPs took place in Latin America (39%), followed by Asia and the Pacific (25%), Europe & Central Asia (18%), Africa (8.5%), and North America (9%). Nearly three-quarters (73%) of cases were brought in countries in the Global South.
  • 63% of cases involved criminal charges
  • Most individuals and groups facing SLAPPs (65% of cases) raised concerns about projects in four sectors: mining (108), agriculture and livestock (76), logging and lumber (29), and palm oil (20)

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited 17 companies to respond to their inclusion in this report. CoreCivic, Lydian Armenia, Resolute Forest Products, and Socfin responded; see responses below. Albtek Energy, Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux, Empresa Minera Inversiones Los Pinares, Energix Renewable Energies Ltd, Energy Transfer, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, Mineral Commodities, MMG Limited Las Bambas, Pollos El Cortijo, Roseburg Forest Products, Thammakaset, White Brenner LLP, and Zhong Yin Cambodia B Textile Co. Ltd did not respond.

The Resource Centre invited an additional 28 companies to respond to the inclusion of cases in our database of cases that bear the hallmarks of SLAPPs. Db Group, E&S Consultancy, Eco Energy World, Green Group Holdings, Hinatuan Mining Company, Kelkos Energy, Korindo, Kronospan, and Vinci responded; their responses are available alongside each case in the database here. Adani Group, Afriland First Bank, Association nationale pommes poires, Emgesa, Essel Group, Gener 2, Grupo Coren, Grupo Roble, Guangyuan Paper Co., Ltd, Henan River Paper Co., Ltd, InVivo Group, Minera Yanacocha, Mustika Manis Utama, Ltd. Tangerang, National Stock Exchange of India, PayPal, SG Interests, Superl Cambodia, Think Biotech, and Zhihui Technology Co., Ltd did not.