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USA: Protect the Protest task force calls on UN to address increase in lawsuits by companies against freedom of expression

Protect the Protest banner Photo credit Electronic Frontier Foundation

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15 January 2019

Protect the Protest Task Force - Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee on US Compliance with the ICCPR

Author: Protect the protest

...Suggested Recommendations
  1.Adopt federal anti-SLAPP legislation with provisions to: 

a. Ensure the rapid dismissal (with prejudice) of lawsuits targeting Constitutionally protected free speech that is made in the public interest.

b. Enable defendants to recover attorney fees and other costs from SLAPP plaintiffs.

c. Automatically stay discovery until the Court rules on the anti-SLAPP motion.

2. Set up an independent oversight mechanism to consider ways to amend RICO or otherwise prevent its abuse against advocacy groups.

a. The mechanism should assess the provisions of the RICO Act in light of its misuse by large corporations against civil society actors, and recommend amendment so that the implementation of the law is in line with its spirit.

3. Pass laws or guidance to protect advocacy groups and individuals speaking out in the public interest from abusive lawsuits, legal intimidation tactics, and criminalization of free speech and freedom of assembly.  

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15 January 2019

U.N. must examine growing trend of U.S. corporations using courts to silence dissent, says free speech group

Author: Protect the Protest

Protect the Protest, an international task force of over 20 organizations working to protect free speech, is calling on the U.N. Human Rights Committee to address the growing trend of corporations and individuals in the United States using Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) to silence free speech.

The task force filed a recommendation on Monday, January 14, with the committee, a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The committee is beginning its periodic review of U.S. compliance with the ICCPR in March 2019 and will first send the U.S. a list of issues to form the basis for the U.S. report to the committee. The task force is asking the committee to includes its recommendation in the list of issues.

“In recent years, there has been discernible growth in the targeted strategy of corporations and wealthy individuals using civil lawsuits to manipulate the legal process and shut down free speech by harassing and draining the resources of the people targeted,” said Charlie Holt, legal counsel at Greenpeace International...

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