MEPs call on EC to introduce legally-binding instruments to eliminate SLAPP

David Casa

A cross party coalition has called on European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová to introduce measures that will remove the abusive practice of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP).

In a statement on Thursday, Partit Nazzjonalista MEP and European Parliament Quaestor David Casa urged the Commissioner for EU Values and Transparency to introduce legally-binding measures which would protect the work and freedom of journalists in their line of work. The measures would also offer legal protection for activists, human right defenders, academics and trade unionists.

The initiative is being led by the Media Working Group of which Casa forms part.

Casa maintained that local media houses and government critics often face such lawsuits in Malta. He highlighted the importance of such a mechanism in a local context, stressing that assassinated investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia had 47 vexatious lawsuits filed against her at the time of her death.

The European Parliament had adopted a resolution on 18 December 2019, in which it was noted that journalists and in particular investigative journalists in Malta were increasingly facing such lawsuits against them.

“Moreover, the letter goes on to explain, the EU response to these tactics should include a revamp of the Brussels I and Rome II Regulations, in order to address jurisdiction rules and end the possibility of forum shopping across the Union. Silencing public debate and watchdogs is detrimental to a democratic state and a democratic Union. At a time of increasing pressure over free and independent media, an effective European answer is imperative to solving this problem,” concluded MEP Casa.