Back
Register for SMS Alerts
or enter your details manually below...
First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Password:
Hometown:
Birthday:
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
Existing users
Email
Password
Sorry, we couldn't find those details.
Enter Email
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.

MEPs want EU-wide protection for journalists against crippling lawsuits

MEPs from different political groups want the European commission to propose legislation protecting journalists from expensive international lawsuits

maria_pace
Maria Pace
12 January 2018, 3:48pm
MEPs from different political groups want the European commission to propose legislation protecting journalists from expensive international lawsuits.

MEPs David Casa (EPP), Ana Gomes (S&D), Monica Macovei (ECR), Maite Pagazaurtundúa (ALDE) Stelios Kouloglou (GUE) and Benedek Jávor (Greens) have joined forces to push for EU legislation that will address and end “SLAPPs”.

“SLAPPS” are lawsuits intended to intimidate and silence investigative journalists and independent media by burdening them with exorbitant legal expenses until they abandon their opposition. According to the MEPs, the practice is abusive, poses a threat to media freedom and has no place in the European Union.

 SLAPP was used against Daphne Caruana Galizia and is now being used against Maltese media houses by firms associated with government corruption and the Panama Papers scandal that are threatening legal action in the United States.

MEPs want an EU anti-SLAPP directive that will include:

  • The ability for investigative journalists and independent media to request that vexatious lawsuits in the EU be expediently dismissed and claim compensation;
  • The establishment of punitive fines on firms pursuing these practices when recourse is made to jurisdictions outside the EU;
  • The setting up of a SLAPP fund to support investigative journalists and independent media that choose to resist malicious attempts to silence them and to assist in the recovery of funds due to them; 
  • The setting-up of an EU register that names and shames firms that pursue these abusive practices.


“In Malta we have seen that firms like Pilatus Bank and Henley & Partners that employ these practices, using American litigation, have succeeded in having stories altered or deleted completely from online archives,” the statement said.

“SLAPP is a serious threat to journalism and media freedom. These sums of money are in no way proportionate.  Independent journalists in Malta already face enormous challenges and restrictions.  Critical journalism must not be stifled,” Thomas Gibson from the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

In addition to pushing for full justice of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, they MEPs said the Commission needs to address the climate in which investigative journalists work in the country.

“Having a media that is free to investigate corruption and abuse of power is fundamental to democracy. These vexatious law suits - deliberately aimed at preventing journalists from carrying out such work - must be stopped,” Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said.

maria_pace
Maria Pace joined MaltaToday in 2017.