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15 Jun 2020

Centre for Environmental Rights (CER)

South Africa: Environmental lawyers & activists defend themselves in court against Mineral Resources Commodities & MSR

"Environmental defenders and activists in court against SLAPP suits", 09 Jun 2020

Today, environmental attorneys and community activists will be defending a defamation matter known as a SLAPP suit where damages amounting to a total amount of R14,25 million is being claimed by controversial Australian mining company, Mineral Resources Commodities (MRC) and its local subsidiary, MSR... For the first time in South Africa’s legal history, the concept of SLAPP (Strategic Litigation against Public Participation) is being referred to in legal argument, which states that the defamation proceedings are an abuse of court process and should not be permitted since it is aimed at silencing public criticism regarding environmental issues.  The defendants submit in written argument, that the SLAPP suit brought by the mining company is being brought for the ulterior purpose of...silencing the defendants... “SLAPP suits are used by corporations here and around the world, to intimidate activists, in particular, environmental defenders who challenge corporations over the impacts of mining and other destructive activities. Such tactics undermine our constitutional democracy, the right to freedom of expression, including academic freedom, pose a threat to the robust and healthy civil society movement..." said Leanne Govindsamy, Head of CER’s Corporate Accountability and Transparency programme...[T]he CER together with civil society and community organisations, launched an “anti-SLAPP” campaign [c]alled Asina Loyiko: Standing Together Against Corporate Bullying... 

More information is available here. Company response is available here.

Part of the following timelines

South Africa: Activists & lawyers argue in court that lawsuits brought by MRC & MSR against them are Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation

Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are on the rise, while resistance around the world mounts