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7 Oct 2021

EU anti-SLAPPs initiatives

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The European Commission is working on a proposed anti-SLAPPs legislation to protect journalists and human rights defenders in strategic lawsuits against public participation. These are lawsuits lodged against such people to prevent them from informing the public and reporting on matters of public interest. Our "SLAPPed but not silenced" report 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 defence of human rights and/or the environment.

On 27 April 2022, the Commission published a proposal for a Directive covering SLAPPs in civil matters with cross-border implications, along with a recommendation encouraging Member States to go further and address national cases of SLAPPs. It has a broad personal scope, addressing anybody engaged in defending fundamental rights including journalists, activists, trade unionists, human rights defenders, etc. It includes key safeguards and remedies, such as early dismissal mechanisms, and remedial and protective measures for victims (e.g. compensation of costs).

On 11 July 2023, the European Parliament adopted its negotiating position, following adoption in its Legal Affairs Committee on 27 June. The Council had agreed its General Approach on 9 June 2023.