Our fight against SLAPPs

Summer Kern, representing Justice and Environment, was in Strasbourg as part of the delegation from the Coalition Against Slapps in Europe (CASE) at an event at the Council of Europe on the 5th of February. There, the urgent need for action to prevent and address strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs; essentially vexatious lawsuits brought by powerful individuals, corporations, or even governments and their officials, to silence critical voices, be they journalists, whistleblowers, environmental activists, or others) was discussed. Stark cases of abuses were presented, as well as preliminary responses from governments to study and take clear actions to address the problem. The critical background of discussions was ovbiously the new CoE recommendations concerning SLAPPs, which are expected to be agreed in the coming weeks, and represent a true sea-change, not only in the rhetoric concerning SLAPPs, but the urgency, focus, and potential. Similarly, the EU is finalizing its Directive against SLAPPs, and that, too, is a watershed moment. Clearly, we are adjusting from a primarily advocacy based approach, to one that concerns transposition and compliance.

On a lighter, but at times cynical note, at the close of a productive CASE AGM meeting on the 6th of February, where we laid out clear next steps and broader strategies, forged closer alliances, we finished off with our traditional CASE SLAPP contest. The raucous but beautifully researched and targetted contest singled out the most egregious SLAPPs of the year, covering broad categories like corporate bully of the year, SLAPP politician of the year, farcical threat of the year, SLAPP country of the year, and finally the sometimes controversial popular vote on international bully of the year, which was won by the Swiss company Sakto, which boasts a truly amazing story, more of which can be read here.

J&E´s interests and contributions here are already evident. We (or our members) have been SLAPPed, we have members who are journalists and other links to those who are, like us, at the frontlne. We are fighting. And we will continue to fight. Using the many tools in our toolbox.