Resolution on anti-Slapp legislation to be voted on today

MEP Roberta Metsola said that journalism was crucial for any democracy, and that the European Parliament should safeguard mediahouses and journalists

The resolution on the anti-Slapp legislation is to be voted on in the European Parliament today at noon, MEP Roberta Metsola has said.  

In a statement, the Maltese MEP said that the European Parliament is calling for more measures to protect journalists in Europe following the assassinations of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Jan Kuciak in Slovakia.

Metsola said that in a hard-hitting resolution on the protection of the free media, negotiated by herself on behalf of the EPP Group, the European Parliament underscored that independent journalism must be supported by the European Union in order for it to remain as the gatekeeper of democracies.

“The vile assassinations of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak have shown how much work still needs to be done to safeguard journalism in Europe. We are trying to address different threats to the free media be they financial, intimidation or security threats,” Metsola said.

“That’s why we have introduced the idea of EU funds to safeguard independent journalism and spoken about having anti-SLAPP legislation passed. Journalism is crucial for any democracy and we have to respond to what media houses and journalists are telling us.”

The resolution underlined the need for EU Anti-SLAPP legislation and essential whistleblower protection after multi-national corporations, including the disgraced Malta-based Pilatus Bank, went after Maltese media houses and whistleblowers uncovering the links between corruption and dirty money, which have been subject to massive intimidation campaigns.

“The intimidation of media or whistleblowers is never acceptable. The media is a fundamental pillar of democracy and in ensuring the rule of law, we must protect it. That is why we are being so insistent on having anti-SLAPP rules in place. It is also why we are so strong in pushing for EU whistleblower protection. Those exposing the crimes, be they whistleblowers or journalists, should never be the ones targeted”, she added.

What is SLAPP?

  • SLAPP is short for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation
  • It is used to describe the exercise by which companies or individuals shop around different jurisdictions to seek the best place where they can file for libel
  • The terminology made headlines last year when the Malta-based Pilatus Bank, filed a lawsuit in the US against journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and other Maltese media houses
  • Any law suit filed in a foreign jurisdiction is potentially crippling for Maltese media houses, even before the case starts being heard

The resolution again underlined the need for an EU rule of law mechanism that puts every Member State under the same level of scrutiny, something that has been pushed by MEP Roberta Metsola for some time.

“The greatest honour we can give slain journalists like Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak is to fight for justice and protect what they dedicated their lives to and to ensure that never again can a culture of impunity allow for the killing of journalists”, said Roberta Metsola.

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