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Article

Journalists facing SLAPPs are finding new strategies to push back

'SLAPP Fight: How Journalists Are Pushing Back on Nuisance Lawsuits', 14 September 2021

Nestor Nga Etoga has made nearly 100 court appearances since 2016, leaving him little time to pursue investigative journalism projects. The Cameroon-based journalist reported on potential labor and human rights violations by an international timber company. The company responded with defamation and false news lawsuits... SLAPPs — an acronym for “strategic lawsuits against public participation” — are an increasing threat to journalists around the globe...

A Business & Human Rights Centre report examining SLAPPs around the world between January 2015 and May 2021 found that these lawsuits are most prevalent in Latin America and Asia. And almost two-thirds of all cases worldwide involved criminal charges. These intimidation lawsuits are increasingly tied to industrial firms, such as mining, agriculture, and logging, the report found, creating increasing pressure on reporters who cover environmental and human rights concerns...

[Suchanee] Cloitre, who is based in Thailand, looked into claims by Burmese workers that they were being abused at a chicken farm in her country. Officials opened a slavery investigation regarding the farm’s practices... Cloitre was initially sentenced to two years in prison...

[Media Defence] said [they are] working with others to create a network of lawyers in the EU who will offer pro bono services to journalists facing SLAPPs... Another step is making lists and creating campaigns that identify people and groups that repeatedly file SLAPPs. The Business & Human Rights Rights Resource Centre identified Thammakaset ... as the most prolific SLAPP filer... Inversiones Los Pinares, based in Honduras, was second... This past June, a European Parliament working group drafted an anti-SLAPP model directive...