European Commission Aims To Protect Journalists From SLAPPs

Strategic lawsuits against public participation are an increasingly prevalent threat to freedom of expression and journalists and other public watchdogs must be better protected from them, the European Commission has said.  

The Commission is consulting key stakeholders to gather evidence on the problem definition and its consequences, and to provide an opportunity to all interested parties to give their views on the possible policy options and any other comment they may have.

“SLAPPs are a recent but increasingly prevalent form of interference with public debate in the EU. They represent a threat to pluralistic public debate, as they may lead to the targets censoring themselves,” the Commission said.

“Moreover, they may have a deterrent effect on other potential targets, who may decide not to assert their right to investigate and report on issues of public interest. Due to their public watchdog function, journalists and rights defenders are particularly exposed to SLAPP.

“This initiative aims to better protect journalists and defenders of civic rights from strategic lawsuits against public participation and to secure the proper functioning of the checks and balances of a healthy democracy by protecting the public debate from undue interference.”