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24 Nov 2022

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders & other UN experts

Malaysia: UN experts express concern over Samling's alleged SLAPP against SAVE Rivers

"Malaysia: alleged SLAPP against human rights organisation SAVE Rivers (joint communication)", 2 November 2022

... Samling Plywood (MIRI) SDN BHD and Samling Plywood (BARAMAS) SDN BHD are private limited companies incorporated in Malaysia. Their business is the extraction and sale of timber and the manufacture of plywood. Both ultimately form part of the Samling Group of Companies. On 2 July 2021, the two companies submitted a claim to the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak at Miri for loss and damage resulting from alleged defamatory statements madeagainst them by SAVE Rivers. The plaintiffs claimed that seven articles  published by the NGO on its website between 23 June 2020 and 10 March 2021 had affected their business and commercial relationships...

... [T*he legal action brought against SAVE Rivers by the companies may amount to an instance of strategic litigation against public participation, also known as a SLAPP. Such manifestly unfounded lawsuits are typically launched by private actors against human rights defenders and others who exercise their right to freedom of expression to raise concerns about corporate activities. The purpose in such cases is to silence criticism and deter future opposition to a company’s projects through intimidation. Where such suits occur, businesses exploit the power imbalances that exist between companies and human rights defenders, leaning in particular on the substantial financial disparities between the parties, given the costs of fighting such cases in court and the size of the damages often sought...