Daphne’s Law, anti-SLAPP directive, becomes EU law

The EU’s anti-SLAPP directive, adopted by the European Parliament on 27th February this year, has been published today in the Official Gazette

The EU’s anti-SLAPP directive, adopted by the European Parliament on 27th February this year, has been published today in the Official Gazette, six years and six months to the day since journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination on October 16, 2017. 

The directive, which sets minimum standards for protecting journalists, activists, academics, and other public watchdogs against abusive litigation across the EU, had been adopted by the European Parliament on 27 February this year.

It was dubbed “Daphne’s Law” by European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová, in memory of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who had been the target of 48 such lawsuits at the time of her death.

Malta’s anti-SLAPP law sitting on government’s lap is in line with EU directive

The Maltese government had proposed it's own anti-SLAPP law in the wake of the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry findings, but these were shot down as weak and ineffective by journalists and campaigners. Neither was a reworking of the government's proposals by a Media Experts Committee well received when it was first published in 2022. The Media Experts Committee subsequently revisited the legislation after a public consultation exercise, submitting its final report in July last year.

“The EU anti-SLAPP directive was brought about by a coalition of the willing in Malta and beyond, inspired by the horrific experience of Daphne Caruana Galizia who faced 48 abusive lawsuits at the time of her assassination, some of which are still active more than six years and six months after her death,” said the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation in a press statement issued to mark the adoption of the directive by the European Parliament.

In September 2021, Malta had promised to be the first European country to introduce anti-SLAPP legislation and Prime Minister Abela has recently expressed his wish to see the directive implemented as soon as possible.

National legislation across the EU must meet or exceed the standards set by the new directive, as well as the human rights standards set by the Council of Europe Recommendation adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 5th April 2024. 

In line with the European Commission’s anti-SLAPP Recommendation, new anti-SLAPP legislation across the EU must be accompanied by other measures, which includes training the judiciary and lawyers to ensure that the anti-SLAPP system is robust.

The ball is now in the government’s court to transpose the directive into local legislation, said the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation. “It is now up to Malta’s government parliament to ensure this happens without compromising the spirit and standards of Daphne’s Law.”

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The action was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this action. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the action.

More in Ewropej 2024