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EU looks to protect journalists against abusive lawsuits

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EU looks to protect journalists against abusive lawsuits

Freedom of the press - Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

(BRUSSELS) - The EU Commission launched a consultation Monday on action against abusive lawsuits lodged against journalists to prevent them informing the public and reporting on matters of public interest.

The Commission will use the results of the consultation to feed into an upcoming initiative against Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPP).

"Daphne Caruana Galizia had 47 abusive law suits known as SLAPP at the time of her assassination," said Commission vice-president Vera Jourova: "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."

"SLAPP is a threat to democratic values and fundamental rights," added Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders: "SLAPPs misuse legal and judiciary systems to censor, intimidate and silence journalists a nd rights' defenders. The Commission's initiative will address this threat and help ensure the proper functioning of the checks and balances of a healthy democracy."

The anti-SLAPP initiative is part of the European Democracy Action Plan, which noted that such practices are increasingly used across many Member States, in an environment where hostile activity against journalists is growing.

Citizens, journalists, Member States, NGOs, civil society, judges, legal professionals are invited to express their views.

The public consultation is available here and will be open until 10 January 2022.

Recently the Commission adopted a Recommendation on safety of journalists and it says it will continue its actions to protect media freedom and pluralism with its work on a new European Media Freedom Act.

Recommendation on safety of journalists

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