curated by Paola Rosà

What and Where in the Resource Centre

SLAPP, strategic lawsuit against public participation

curated by Paola Rosà

The definition in our special dossier

SLAPPs are vexatious lawsuits and legal cases aimed at silencing critics and intimidating journalists, human rights defenders or activists; plaintiffs are usually powerful individuals, companies and politicians, who abuse legal procedures in order to stop, delay or prevent journalistic investigations, public scrutiny and criticism

139 matches in the database of the Resource Centre: 73 news and statements, 36 reports, 14 legal resources, 5 support centres, 4 academic sources, 2 books, 2 manuals, 2 videos

A story of shared efforts and prompt responses

Months of advocacy, research, events, meetings, lobbying; dozens of statements and letters to EU institutions; several dozens of publications, articles, and op-eds. Since the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta in October 2017, the common efforts to advocate for a EU initiative against SLAPPs have gradually gained more and more support and involved more and more organisations and stakeholders all over Europe.
A milestone in this story was the "EU SLAPP Symposium" organised by Greenpeace Europe in Amsterdam in February 2020: this was the actual starting point of a wide advocacy activity that led to the constitution of the CASE, Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe.
The following timeline - a look back, a diary of a story of success - presents a selection of resources from our database, where over 130 items are focused on strategic lawsuits against public participation.
Resources are of a mixed nature, and the timeline follows the steps of the last three years: this story is made of pressure from civil society and responses from institutions, it is a sequence of meetings and publications, conferences and talks behind closed doors, papers and recommendations, that had its provisional "final" goal in the approval of the EU Commission anti-SLAPP package on 27 April 2022.

The timeline

27 Apr. 2022, EU Commission anti-SLAPP package: The Commission approves a proposal for a directive and a recommendation

16 Mar. 2022, Double report launch: the CASE coalition publishes a study with a collection of over 500 cases of SLAPPs in Europe and ARTICLE 19 Europe publishes its analysis focused on 11 European countries

1 Feb. 2022, Petition delivered to the Commission: Over 200,000 signatures are handed to Věra Jourová, Vicepresident of the EU Commission

10 Jan. 2022, Dossier "SLAPP and Democracy", an analysis focused on Italy: OBCT publishes an overview of cases under the perspective of the victims

10 Jan. 2022, CASE submission to SLAPP consultation: The partners of the CASE coalition work on a comprehensive and detailed overview of cases

23 Nov. 2021, Special Report by the OSCE RoFM: The Representative on Freedom of the Media publishes a study on legal harassment

11 Nov. 2021, INI Report of the European Parliament: With a large majority, the EP approves the proposal for a Resolution on SLAPP

12 Oct. 2021, OSCE South East Europe Media Conference in Tirana: OBCT is invited in Albania to moderate a panel about SLAPP

16 Sep. 2021, EU Commission Safety Recommendation: This initiative includes a mention of SLAPP, stressing the fact that it deserves a separate action

20 Jul. 2021, Rule of Law Report 2021: In almost all country chapters, SLAPPs are considered dangerous threats to the Rule of Law

30 Jun. 2021, A comparative study, CEPS (EU Commission): More than 300 pages based on the preliminary paper of one year before, OBCT outputs mentioned

22 Jun. 2021, Resolution of the Council of Europe: SLAPPs are mentioned among the attacks and threats suffered by journalists

14 Jun. 2021, DRAFT Report of the EP about SLAPP: The preliminary work of the rapporteurs, who also met stakeholders, the CASE and OBCT

1 Jun. 2021, A study by Justin Borg-Barthet (commissioned by the EP): One of the works commissioned by the European Parliament within the work leading to the INI

26 Mar. 2021, launch of the website of the CASE: After months of meetings and research, the website is the public access to the activity of the CASE

7 Dec. 2020, A model directive by the CASE: Experts worked on an anti-SLAPP model directive that was sent to the EU Commission

2 Dec. 2020, European Democracy Action Plan, EDAP: The initiative includes 3 pillars, and SLAPP is the main objective of the second one

25 Nov. 2020, EP Resolution on Media Freedom: A milestone resolution picking up recommendations and contents of the Resolution of 3 May 2018

27 Oct. 2020, Human Rights Comment by CoE Commissioner: Dunja Mijatović comments: "Time to take action against SLAPPs"

1 Sept. 2020, Report by Index on Censorship: "Breaking the silence", the result of a group discussion organized by Index on Censorship on 8 July 2020

30 Jun. 2020, Report by Greenpeace Europe: Sued Into Silence: How the rich and powerful use legal tactics to shut critics up

15 Jun. 2020, Study commissioned by the EP: Safety of Journalists and the Fighting of Corruption in the EU

8 Jun. 2020, Letter of 100 ngos to EU institutions: Ending SLAPPs, Gag Lawsuits in Europe, to Protect Democracy and Fundamental Rights

29 May 2020, Study requested by the European Commission, CESP: Ad-Hoc Request: 69 pages, 5 chapters and 6 case studies

20 May 2020, Letter to the European Commission: Almost 30 ngos support the legal advice concerning the introduction of anti-SLAPP legislation

12 Nov. 2019, Expert talk in Brussels , OBCT participates in an event hosted by three MEPs: it is the first time that SLAPP is mentioned in the European Parliament as a topic of study and open discussion

3 May 2018, EP Resolution on media pluralism and media freedom. The European Parliament calls on the Commission to propose an Anti-SLAPP Directive

19 Feb. 2018, letter to the Vicepresident of the EU Commission signed by 6 MEPs. The request for anti-SLAPP measures is supported by several ngos, but the Commissioner rejects it


This content is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response  (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. The project is co-funded by the European Commission.