Nationalist MEP and European Parliament Vice President Roberta Metsola has been appointed to lead the European Union’s efforts to combat SLAPP lawsuits across the bloc.
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) are lawsuits whose only aim is to place excessive financial burdens on media houses in order to stifle their ability to expose the truth and hold the powerful to account.
The European Union has agreed to issue a report on implementing rules preventing such lawsuits, with Metsola insisting that she wanted to see the European Commission table a proposed anti-SLAPP directive by the end of the year.
Honoured to have been appointed to lead European Parliament Anti-SLAPP efforts, together with S&D MEP Tiemo Wölken (@Woelken).
In the @Europarl_EN we want this to be a cross-party, cross-committee effort to support journalism and the truth-seekers. We will get this right.
— Roberta Metsola MEP (@RobertaMetsola) April 19, 2021
The Maltese MEP will be leading the EU’s efforts together with German S&D MEP Tiemo Wolken in a bid to ensure as far-reaching an agreement as possible.
“This can become a watershed moment for journalism in Europe,” Metsola said of her appointment. “Journalists face threats of not only violence and murder, but legal suits from unscrupulous actors who seek to silence media houses with the threat of vexatious lawsuits.”
These lawsuits, she added, are often “cross-border threats that cost large sums of money to defend just by being filed – irrespective of guilt”.
Metsola said that the consequences of such lawsuits were therefore devastating, especially on smaller media houses, leading to an overall negative impact on the country’s democracy and the public’s right to know.
The PN MEP dedicated her appointment to Daphne Caruana Galizia, who at the time of her murder had 42 pending cases against her, having also had her assets frozen by then Economy Minister Chris Cardona.
Incidentally, the news comes on the same day it was announced that businessman Silvio Debono formally dropped 19 libel suits he had instituted against the journalist.
“This is for her family who have to endure defending her name after many people refused to drop libel cases even after her assassination. This is for every media house, every journalist, every blogger and every NGO that has been threatened by crooked politicians, dodgy banks, corrupt corporations and those criminals with everything to lose. We will get this right for them and for all of us.”
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
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