2022 was a record year for number of SLAPPs in Europe, report finds

As the number of SLAPPs continues to grow across Europe, it’s time for abusive litigation and legal threats targeting journalists and activists – who expose and report on abuses of power – to be recognised as one the most pressing challenges for the universal right to speak and know.

SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) are abusive lawsuits filed to shut down acts of public participation, including public interest journalism, peaceful protests or boycotts, advocacy, or simply speaking out against the abuse of power. SLAPPs target anyone who works to hold those in power to account or engage in matters of public interest.

The latest report published by The Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE) unveils the most recent data, offering a stark reminder of the persisting threats to freedom of speech and public participation in Europe.

Key research findings

  • Year after year, SLAPPs are increasingly a worrying threat to democracy across Europe – CASE’s database has increased from 570 cases in 2022 to over 820 cases in 2023.
  • Most lawsuits are based on national defamation laws or similar provisions on insult or honour.
  • The median value of damages claimed was €15,150.
  • The most likely targets of a SLAPP are journalists, media outlets, editors, activists, and NGOs.
  • Abusive legal actions are most commonly launched against individuals, which shows how critical it is for a support network to be available.
  • The most common SLAPP litigants are those in positions of power, namely, businesses and politicians.
  • A notable number of SLAPP lawsuits were mapped in Malta, France, Croatia, Greece, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Georgia.
  • SLAPPs mostly target action or publication on corruption, government, business and environmental issues.

Given Civil Rights Defenders’ unwavering commitment to safeguarding freedom of speech, we proudly stand as a member of the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE). The findings of CASE’s report underscore the importance and urgency of anti-SLAPP protection measures, particularly legislation providing a strong safety shield on both national and international levels.

Read the full report by the link.

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