Edition: International | Greek
MENU

Home » Europe

EU plan to protect journalists from malicious lawsuits moves forward

The European Commission initiated on Monday (4 October) a public consultation on its plan to protect journalists and human rights defenders from litigation designed to curtail their work

By: EBR - Posted: Tuesday, October 5, 2021

“Journalists and rights defenders should be the watchdogs of our democracies, not legally harassed for keeping in check those in power. The public consultation will help us to understand what we need to do to protect them.”
“Journalists and rights defenders should be the watchdogs of our democracies, not legally harassed for keeping in check those in power. The public consultation will help us to understand what we need to do to protect them.”

by Molly Killeen

The European Commission initiated on Monday (4 October) a public consultation on its plan to protect journalists and human rights defenders from litigation designed to curtail their work.

Feedback from the consultation will inform the Commission’s upcoming initiative focused on the so-called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), which are often used by businesses, governments or individuals to silence figures from the media or human rights fields.

“Journalists and rights defenders should be the watchdogs of our democracies, not legally harassed for keeping in check those in power. The public consultation will help us to understand what we need to do to protect them,” said Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Vera Jourova.

The proposed initiative was announced in December 2020 as part of the European Democracy Action Plan, a broad package of measures designed to strengthen free elections, protect media freedoms and counter disinformation.

The use of SLAPPs against journalists in Europe has been growing and calls for the EU to take action to combat them have mounted since the assassination in 2017 of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was facing 47 such lawsuits at the time of her death.

Earlier this year, more than 100 organisations signed an open letter to the Council of Europe, calling for a recommendation on tackling the increasing use of SLAPPs across the continent, in countries both within and outside the EU.

SLAPPs “misuse legal and judiciary systems to censor, intimidate and silence journalists and rights’ defenders”, said Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, describing them as “a threat to democratic values and fundamental rights.”

“The Commission’s initiative will address this threat and help ensure the proper functioning of the checks and balances of a healthy democracy”, he added.

The public consultation period, which will last until 10 January 2022, precedes the initiative’s expected adoption in the spring.

Among the other steps recently taken by the Commission under the umbrella of the Democracy Action Plan are the introduction of Recommendations on the Safety of Journalists and a push for more widespread support when it comes to updating the 2018 Code of Practice on Disinformation.

EU lawmaker Tiemo Wolken, JURI Committee rapporteur for the SLAPPs file, told EURACTIV that “we need to develop stronger judicial cooperation by providing common rules on how to deal with SLAPPs”.

“This must include, but is not limited to, a clear definition of SLAPPs, rules on confidentiality of investigations and reports, including of information sources and as well as rules giving victims the possibility to as for an early dismissal,” he added.

Non-legislative measures should also be introduced, Wolken said, “for example the introduction of a much needed and robust fund to support SLAPP victims or the introduction of effective assistance, information and practical advice and support provided by a one-stop-shop for ‘first aid’ to SLAPP victims.”

*first published in: www.euractiv.com

READ ALSO

EU Actually

Rising energy prices expose EU’s dependence

N. Peter KramerBy: N. Peter Kramer

Rising energy prices are mercilessly exposing dependence of the EU. The EU must import 90 percent of its gas, 43 percent of which came through Gazprom last year

View 03/2021 2021 Digital edition

Magazine

Current Issue

03/2021 2021

View past issues
Subscribe
Advertise
Digital edition

Europe

Emerging renewable energy markets require well-designed auctions

Emerging renewable energy markets require well-designed auctions

Auctions are an essential part of the policy toolkit for promoting cost-efficient renewable energy development. Still, policymakers must be prepared to tailor their design to local conditions and adjust for market-specific challenges

Business

An ethical, open and transparent office culture can be designed. Here’s how

An ethical, open and transparent office culture can be designed. Here’s how

In recent years, increasing numbers of consumers and employees have been calling on businesses to lead in new, more ethical ways, but organisations still have a lot of work to do on this front

MARKET INDICES

Powered by Investing.com
All contents © Copyright EMG Strategic Consulting Ltd. 1997-2021. All Rights Reserved   |   Home Page  |   Disclaimer  |   Website by Theratron