Casa reiterates call for legislation to counter abusive SLAPP practices

'A serious threat to media freedom'

MEP David Casa has reiterated his call for EU Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans to propose EU legislation that would counter abusive SLAPP practices.

Intervening during a meeting of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in Strasbourg, Mr Casa said that the use of these practices constitute a serious threat to media freedom and should be addressed at EU level.

Mr Casa pointed out that he had written to the Commission on a number of occasions, to call for these practices to be addressed. “It is unacceptable that we allow companies with unlimited resources to bully and intimidate independent media with vexatious lawsuits in jurisdictions outside the European Union."

SLAPP (Strategic lawsuit against public participation) lawsuits are ones which are filed with the intention of bullying targets into silence by burdening them with legal proceedings so expensive that they cannot afford to challenge them. 

Read: SLAPP down companies bullying free press, MEPs urge Commission

Pilatus Bank – accused by murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia of laundering money for the Maltese Prime Minister’s chief of staff – had succeeded in concealing truth and effectively re-writing history by threatening multi-million dollar lawsuits in the US, Mr Casa said. 

"In the EU we should be pioneers in enacting legislation that protects investigative journalism. Instead we are lagging behind. We should no longer be complacent on this issue”, Mr Casa said.

Read: MEPs call on Commission to protect freedom of the press

He welcomed the announcement made by Vice-President Timmermans that the Commission was actively pursuing the issue and assessing how such legislation can be introduced.

In October, Times of Malta editors released a statement saying that they had made a few amendments to some online content acting on legal advice to “a very serious threat to freedom of the press and to the very existence of our organisation”.

The content in its original form is still available to subscribers as part of the Times of Malta archives.

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