The vice-president of the European Commission revealed that she wanted to name the new anti-SLAPP directive the “Daphne law” in honor of the murdered journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Earlier today, the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (also known as CASE) responded to the European Commission’s proposed anti-SLAPP directive announced on April 27.
CASE has welcomed the European Commission’s proposed anti-gag directive which includes key remedies and procedural safeguards necessary for effective anti-gag legislation.
The initiative promises to introduce several safeguards and procedural remedies, such as compensation for damages and dissuasive penalties for initiating frivolous lawsuits.
Member States will also be encouraged to follow the new law for national affairs in all procedures, while providing training and awareness to combat SLAPPs.
SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) have become an increasingly widespread phenomenon in Europe, including in Malta. They have the specific purpose of silencing the defendant by subjecting the person to long, cumbersome and costly lawsuits, often in another jurisdiction.
The bill is the result of a group of MEPs from different political groups who came together after the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and called on the European Commission to promote an anti-SLAPP directive to counter attempts to silence investigative journalism. At the time of her death, Daphne was facing more than 40 lawsuits.
“Different political groups have come together to discuss what should be done right after Daphne’s assassination. This kind of coordination between political groups was not normal at the time,” said MEP David Casa.
“Four years ago, a cross-party group of MEPs called on the Commission to protect people from the SLAPP harassment my mum suffered. Today, thanks to Vice-President Jourova, Commissioner Reynders and their teams, this protection is on the verge of becoming a reality,” said Matthew Caruana Galizia, the journalist’s son.
Jourova described the trials in an almost biblical way. “The plaintiffs are rich and the targets are not. It is an unfair and unequal fight; it’s a David versus Goliath fight,” she said.
Caruana Galizia asked Jourova how she managed to coordinate the work internally. She said: ‘I needed an army of lawyers to do the job. I promised to complete the directive in 2019 and felt a strong sense of commitment.”
“It was a personal case. I stood at Daphne’s grave with her parents and sons. I wanted to name this law ‘Daphne’s law’, but I couldn’t. However, we can all agree that it is actually ‘Daphne’s Law’,” Jourova said.
Matthew described the Commission’s proposal as “the start of a new phase in our campaign as a family and as members of the Coalition”.
“We must now focus on Member States which must implement the Commission’s measures as a minimum, protect the public interest and do justice to my mother’s sacrifice,” he said.
What do you think of the proposed anti-SLAPP directive?