Taking Action against SLAPPs in Europe

Naomi Colvin

Playlists: 'MCH2022' videos starting here / audio

SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation) are nuisance lawsuits designed to get journalists, activists, historians, whistleblowers and others to keep quiet. This kind of lawfare isn't new, but there is an increasing focus on the issue in Europe, with new legislation coming. Here's where you find out more.

You receive a threatening letter from a major law firm, probably based in London, trying to stop your reporting, or your activism, threatening you as an individual as well as the organisation you are affiliated with - congratulations, you've just been SLAPPed.

Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are on the increase worldwide, and Europe is beginning to take notice. Lawyers' associations in Italy and Croatia report hundreds of nuisance suits being laid against journalists. In Hungary, Poland and Slovenia, the state and its allies are SLAPPing opponents - journalists, anticorruption activists, LGBTI+ rights advocates - with impunity.

Litigation has been turned against the activist community, oligarchs try to silence debate and Eastern Europe has become the new home of SLAPP-based oppression, as politics slide into autocracy and leaders stamp down on dissent.

Blueprint is part of an 11-country coalition working on the ground to train lawyers to help the victims of SLAPPs strike back. We're currently developing a curriculum from scratch, drawing on European human rights principles and local knowledge.

If you want to understand the European situation better, or if you have experience of SLAPPS and can help us understand what kinds of legal training and other defences are useful to civil society, we'd love for you to join this conversation.