Human Rights Watch director says baseless lawsuits by cos. are a growing global trend to stop environmental activists
Author: Marcos Orellana, Environment and human rights director, Human Rights Watch, Published on: 8 May 2019
"Green activists are fighting the great fight—but are being dragged down by petty lawsuits | opinion", 07 May 2019
Despite the global environmental crisis confronting our planet, environmental activism has become a dangerous activity. In many countries, environmental defenders are harassed, attacked or even killed for speaking out and mobilizing... The latest tactic is nuisance lawsuits,... The companies that bring these baseless lawsuits—known as “Strategic lawsuits against public participation,” or SLAPPs—are not particularly concerned with winning. Rather, it’s a tactic to suppress environmental defenders’ effectiveness by intimidating them and burdening them with onerous costs of mounting a legal defense... In 2017...the mining company Mineral Sand Resources brought a defamation suit against two attorneys from the Centre for Environmental Rights and a local activist for statements they made during a lecture...concerning the company’s Tormin mineral sands mine, on the west coast of South Africa. The ongoing lawsuit seeks R1,250,000 ($89,936) in damages. These lawsuits are a growing trend globally... In the United States, in May 2016, Resolute Forest Products filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace... the same corporation alleged defamation against Greenpeace Canada, citing activists’ criticisms and filing a CAD$7 million lawsuit...In Australia, Adani—India’s largest coal importer with interests in a coal mine in Central Queensland—engaged a law firm that recommended adopting an aggressive legal strategy to bankrupt opponents, silence critics and pressure the government.... [Refers to Socapalm & Socfin].