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Briefing

9 Feb 2022

SLAPPs in Latin America: Strategic lawsuits against public participation in the context of business and human rights

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Between January 2015 - December 2021, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre recorded more than 385 cases which bear the hallmarks of Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs). At least 149 of these cases took place in Latin America.

Honduras, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico are the countries where most cases were identified. However, there have also been cases in other countries in the region such as Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and Nicaragua.

Key findings:

  • The Resource Centre identified 149 cases which bear the hallmarks of SLAPPs brought or initiated by business actors in Latin America since 2015 against individuals and groups related to their defence of human rights and/or the environment
  • 139 of the cases include criminal complaints, most commonly related to defamation and other charges of slander and incitement to commit a crime.
  • At least 10 cases have been identified involving civil lawsuits which include aggressive and disproportionate claims for compensation.
  • The majority of individuals and groups facing SLAPPs in Latin America raised concerns about projects in three sectors: mining (62), agriculture and livestock (26), and palm oil (15).
  • Many SLAPPs are filed against community leaders, social activists, journalists, indigenous leaders and environmental defenders.

Some of these cases are available in our public database available here.

Additional resources

Global analysis

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

SLAPPs database

Explore our database of cases which bear the hallmarks of SLAPPs

Human rights defenders and civic freedoms

News, resources, interviews and guidance on human rights defenders working on business-related issues