Malta had the highest number of SLAPP cases per capita among 30 countries assessed in a study conducted by the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation.
Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in a powerful car bomb blast in late 2017, was the most frequently targeted person, according to the CASE report.
“This reveals the urgent need for Malta to implement strong, precise and effective anti-SLAPP legislation to ensure that no one, ever again, is targeted as Daphne Caruana Galizia was for doing her job,” the authorities said. authors of the report.
On Shutting Out Criticism: How SLAPPs Threaten European Democracy, the CASE report found that strategic lawsuits against public participation are on the rise across Europe.
The study looked at more than 500 SLAPP cases in 30 countries, ranging from those maintaining and promoting strong democracies to states with core rule of law issues.
SLAPPs are seen as a form of abuse of law and justice that corrupt politicians and powerful corporations across Europe are increasingly using to harass, bankrupt and intimidate journalists, activists and others guard dogs until silence.
Aided by expensive and unscrupulous law firms, those who have brought such lawsuits are suing the media and NGOs for baseless and abusive allegations in an attempt to end acts of public participation, including journalism. public interest, peaceful demonstrations or boycotts, advocacy, denunciation or simply denouncing abuses of power.
A broad coalition of NGOs from across Europe, CASE forms a united front in recognizing the threat that SLAPPs pose to public participants.
The report aims to inform advocacy and campaigning efforts to reach lawmakers across Europe considering the introduction of measures to effectively address the abuse of SLAPPs. It also serves to inform public watchdogs affected by SLAPPs that they are not alone.
His analysis is based primarily on a dataset generously shared by the Amsterdam Law Clinics (ALC) who, over several years, have mapped cases that may resemble SLAPP lawsuits in the European context.
In their research, different groups of LAC students have identified common conditions that give rise to SLAPPs across Europe. (ALCs are part of the Faculty of Law of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Their main mission is to provide law students with the opportunity to participate in real cases on legal matters of public interest under the supervision professionals and other scholars from the Faculty of Law.)
Key findings from Shutting Out Criticism: How SLAPPs Threaten European Democracy:
- SLAPPs are a pan-European phenomenon that must be dealt with regionally and coherently, dealing with both national and cross-border cases.
- Out of 30 countries, Malta has the highest number of SLAPP cases per capita.
- Of all the cases documented in this study, Daphne Caruana Galizia was the most frequently targeted person.
- The number of SLAPP cases across Europe is increasing year on year, with the highest number recorded in 2021, followed by 2020 and 2019.
- SLAPPs are filed in countries with strong democracies as well as countries with critical rule of law concerns.
- SLAPPs affect multiple sectors ranging from the environment to education and anti-corruption.
- The common factor in all SLAPP cases is the misuse of existing laws to intimidate and harass those who speak out and actively participate in civic space – journalists, whistleblowers, activists, advocacy groups, academics and other dogs public guards.
- What sets a SLAPP apart is that the complainant’s goal is to silence the actions or words of their target.
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