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Strategic lawsuits against public participation

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. This hub brings together the latest news and resources on SLAPPs, our database with examples of cases that bear the hallmarks of SLAPPs, and our related analyses.

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.

The key lesson I have learned in our fight against SLAPPs in Thailand is to continue to speak truth to power, whether to government officers or to the business sector. It is important to continue our legitimate work and use our voice to support marginalised communities to achieve human rights and economic and environmental justice.
Sutharee Wannasiri, human rights advocate

Our research

SLAPPed but not silenced

Defending human rights in the face of legal risks

SLAPPs in Southeast Asia

Cases and recommendations for governments, business and civil society

Silencing the critics

How big polluters try to paralyse environmental and human rights advocacy through the courts

Partner resources

Asina Loyiko resource hub

Resource and connection hub for activists confronted by SLAPP suits and other uses of the law to discourage and silence activism and free speech

Anti-SLAPP coalitions

Protect the Protest

Task force working to end the use of SLAPPs

CASE

Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe

On ne se taira pas (We will not be silent)

Collective working to end the use of gagging orders

SLAPPs database

The Resource Centre collects data on lawsuits that bear the hallmarks of SLAPPs against defenders that raise concerns about business. Since 2015, the Resource Centre has categorized more than 355 cases brought or initiated by business actors bear the hallmarks of SLAPPs. This database provides examples of these cases worldwide and is not meant to be a comprehensive resource.


Videos

We asked human rights defenders, civil society organisations, lawyers and politicians about their experiences of SLAPPs and recommendations for strategies to resist their use.

Watch the full collection

Hear more perspectives from human rights defenders, civil society, government and legal professions