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13 Jan 2022

ENNHRI contributes to EU consultation on tackling strategic litigation against public participation

In its submission, ENNHRI advocates for strong safeguards to protect NHRIs and other human rights defenders from strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP). Such litigation aims to curb rights defenders’ ability to report on issues of public interest and engage in open debate.

This submission builds on ENHHRI’s input into the same roadmap on the European Union package against abusive litigation targeting journalists and rights defenders which preceded the consultation.

In the submission, ENNHRI recommends the EU take measures to constrain the use of SLAPP. These include legislative and non-legislative measures, as well as financial assistance for bodies that support targets of SLAPP.

ENNHRI recommends that the legislative measures cover legal harassment of and threats made against human rights defenders, including NHRIs and their staff. They should recognise and support NHRIs’ role in countering attempts to silence pluralistic public debate. Furthermore, they should include uniform safeguards to protect NHRIs and the rights defenders they support against SLAPP.

Additionally, ENNHRI advocates for non-legislative measures to tackle the use of SLAPP. These include awareness raising and training for legal professionals, national authorities and rights defenders, and sharing good practices for countering SLAPP.

Finally, ENNHRI calls on the EU to create and maintain a mechanism for rights defenders in the EU to report attacks, register risks, map trends, and activate timely and targeted support. It also encourages the EU to work with ENNHRI in support of NHRIs facing threats.

ENNHRI welcomes the European Commission’s initiative to tackle the use of SLAPP. It remains ready to cooperate with the EU to protect human rights defenders and civil society in the EU.

» Read and download the submission.