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SLAPPs Database

Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are one tactic used by business actors to stop people raising concerns about their practices. SLAPPs can take the form of criminal or civil lawsuits brought to intimidate, bankrupt and silence critics.

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When human rights defenders are afraid to question reports about wrongdoing and deficits they observe, it affects the entire society. Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) have exactly that effect: they can impose sometimes significant fines and criminal sanctions, and thus intimidate human rights defenders and stop them from shedding light on critical issues. It is our shared responsibility to prevent SLAPPs from undermining everyone’s right to know.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet

Human rights defenders are at the forefront of peacefully promoting and protecting our human rights, natural resources, and shared planet, as well as playing a vital role in calling out the harm created by irresponsible business practices. Protecting these defenders’ freedom of expression and association is crucial to our democracies, transparency in markets, and protection of workers and communities.

Every day across the globe, defenders who bravely speak out against injustice face a range of attacks for the mere reason of raising concerns about human rights risks and harms associated with business practices. Strategic lawsuits against public participation, criminal or civil lawsuits brought or initiated by business actors to intimidate critics, are one form of attack that defenders face. The tactic can drain the resources of community members, environmental advocates, and journalists who speak out in support of human rights and the environment and have a broader chilling effect, deterring others from speaking out against risks or abuse.