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Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin – Issue 24, September 2017

Welcome to our Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin -- highlighting a specific topic each quarter, as well as key developments in corporate legal accountability. The Corporate Legal Accountability hub on our website provides objective, concise information about lawsuits against companies in which human rights abuses are alleged.

Quarterly Highlight: Lawsuits by companies seek to silence accountability advocates...Imagine that you are a lawyer, presenting your work and some legal cases you are involved in at a university, and...you receive notice that you are being sued for defamation. This is exactly what happened to the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) in South Africa. In a presentation at the University of Cape Town in January 2017, two CER lawyers…stated that Mineral Sand Resources...was “environmentally destructive”. In May, they were notified that MSR...was suing them for defamation, along with a local community activist…CER said that this lawsuit was a Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation (SLAPP) – “Here is a message to corporates who think they can use lawsuits and other intimidation tactics to silence the voices of activists…We will fight back‚ we will continue to investigate corporate misdeeds‚ and we will rally support from partners – but most of all‚ we will not be silenced.” SLAPPs are often filed by companies to intimidate and silence people seeking to participate in matters of public interest (local communities, trade unionists, journalists, NGOs, lawyers, whistle-blowers), tying them up in costly litigation processes until they abandon their criticism or opposition.  In most cases they have little likelihood of succeeding on their merits.  But even requiring victims of human rights abuse, NGOs, journalists and others to defend against these claims can threaten civic space and keep victims from accessing justice...

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