New report on protecting the media against Slapps
What measures can be introduced to protect journalists facing vexatious legal actions?
21 Sep 20

Index on Censorship has launched its second report, Breaking the Silence, as part of its ongoing research into a type of vexatious legal action known as a Slapp – strategic lawsuit against public participation. The research focuses on the extent to which journalists and media outlets in Europe are being affected by Slapps, and on what can be done to protect them.

Breaking the Silence outlines a series of concerns raised by media lawyers during a roundtable hosted by Index on Censorship in July, and puts forward six measures that would help prevent Slapps from having an impact. One of the most extensive measures is the introduction of anti-Slapps legislation. “Free speech is vastly protected by the anti-Slapp statute – it’s a night and day difference,” United States-based lawyer, Thomas R. Burke, told the roundtable participants as he outlined the legislation that was enacted in California in 1992.

“We are indebted to the lawyers and legal experts who shared their time and insights with us,” said senior policy research and advocacy officer, Jessica Ní Mhainín, who authored the report. “We hope that policymakers will pay heed to the serious threat that Slapps are posing to freedom of expression, rule of law, and democracy, and consider the measures that are proposed in this report.”

Read the full report.

By Jessica Ní Mhainín

Jessica Ní Mhainín is Head of Policy and Campaigns at Index on Censorship. She joined Index in April 2019 and since 2020 has led Index's project work, which seeks to protect and defend journalists, human rights defenders, artists, and academics around the world. She is co-founder of the UK Anti-SLAPP Coalition and has been actively involved in anti-SLAPP campaigns across Europe. She has experience in international human rights advocacy through her work at Front Line Defenders and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). She holds a Master’s degree in EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies from the College of Europe.