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‘I Wanted To Call It Daphne’s Law’: Commission Vice President Jourova Discusses Anti-SLAPP Directive With CASE

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The Vice President of the European Commission revealed that she wanted to name the new anti-SLAPP directive “Daphne’s law” after the assassinated 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 which was announced on 27th April. 

CASE welcomed the European Commission’s anti-SLAPP directive proposal which includes key remedies and procedural safeguards needed in ant effective anti-SLAPP legislation.

The initiative promises to introduce several procedural safeguards and remedies, such as compensation for damages, and dissuasive penalties for launching abusive lawsuits.

Member states will also be encouraged to follow the new law for domestic cases in all proceedings, while also providing training and building awareness to combat SLAPPs.

SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) have become an increasingly growing phenomenon around Europe, including Malta. They have the specific aim of silencing the defendant by subjecting the person to lengthy, burdensome and expensive lawsuits, often in another jurisdiction.

The proposed law is the result of a group of MEPs from different political groups who came together after the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and called for the European Commission to promote an anti-SLAPP directive to counter attempts at silencing investigate journalism. At the time of her death, Daphne was facing over 40 lawsuits.

“Different political groups came together to discuss what should be done right after Daphne was assassinated. This sort of coordination between political groups was not normal at the time,” MEP David Casa said. 

“Four years ago, a cross-party group of MEPs called on the Commission to protect people from the SLAPP harassment my mother was subjected to. Today, thanks to Vice President Jourova, Commissioner Reynders and their teams, that protection is close to becoming a reality,” Matthew Caruana Galizia, the journalist’s son said.

Jourova described the lawsuits in an almost biblical way. “Claimants are wealthy and the targets are not. It is an unfair and unequal fight; it is a David and 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 get the directive done in 2019 and I 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 didn’t succeed. However, we can all agree this is in fact ‘Daphne’s law’,” Jourova said. 

Matthew described the Commission’s proposal as “the beginning of a new phase in our campaign as a family, and as members of the Coalition”. 

“We now need to focus on member states who need to implement the Commission’s measures to a minimum, to protect the public interest and to do justice to my mother’s sacrifice,” he said.

What do you think about the proposed anti-SLAPP directive?

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Amy is a university student with a keen interest in all things related to food, photography, press freedom, politics and justice. Send her any stories that might be of interest at [email protected]

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