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The European Parliament approves the directive against abusive lawsuits against journalists and activists

The European Parliament approves the directive against abusive lawsuits against

The European Parliament on Tuesday approved a directive against legal intimidation of journalists, academics and activists, known as SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), a step hailed as historic by various advocacy organizations. human rights.

The directive, which was adopted with 546 votes in favor, 47 against and 31 abstentions, aims to crack down on a now well-known practice of corporations and politicians, who use their own human and financial resources to drag out long and costly processes. media or activists, with the aim of intimidating them, knowing that the claims are unfounded.

According to an announcement by the European Parliament, the new law aims "to ensure that individuals and organizations working on issues of public interest, such as fundamental rights, allusions to corruption, the protection of democracy or the fight against discrimination, have the protection of the EU against groundless or abusive civil lawsuits."

Human rights organizations have referred to this legislation as the Daphne Amendment, in memory of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who faced a high number of such lawsuits due to her work as an investigative journalist before she was murdered. in a 2017 bombing.

The European Center for Press and Media Freedom, ECPMF, considered the vote "historic".

"This marks a historic moment for the safety of journalists and for media freedom in Europe," the organization stated in a press release.

SLAPPs were first identified by researchers in the 1980s in the US. The logic behind this phenomenon is that activists or journalists most of the time have limited time and financial resources and therefore, they may be forced to self-censor in the event that a politician, a businessman or a corporation that does not have problems with the lack of resources , drag them to court for years and years, despite the fact that in the end the courts may dismiss the lawsuit as unfounded in law and evidence.

SLAPP practitioners thus use their financial power to intimidate critics under the threat of litigation and judicial uncertainty. In the most typical case in Albania, the company Gener 2 sued for defamation and demanded compensation of 20 million lek from activists who opposed the construction of hydropower plants on the Valbona river. The court dismissed the lawsuit as not based on the law and the evidence.

According to the new European legislation, in addition to dismissing the lawsuit, in such a case, the plaintiff will have to be fined for abusing the right to file a lawsuit so that in the future, companies are aware that such abusive lawsuits do not cost only the cost of the lawyer. Reporter.al


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