How to counter SLAPPs? CASE Italia releases a position paper


Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) pose a significant threat to freedom of expression in Italy, reflecting a global trend of stifling public participation and suppressing critical voices. CASE Italia has released a position paper, reiterating its commitment to championing strong anti-SLAPP measures at the national level. Their goal is to safeguard individuals expressing opinions on public matters, ensuring they are shielded from intimidation, convictions, or detention. 

Italy witnesses a concerning rise as politicians and high-profile public figures increasingly employ aggressive legal measures to suppress criticism. When such tactics are endorsed by the highest representatives of government, a severe threat emerges against freedom of expression and public participation. The reasons are two-fold: an imbalance of power favouring authorities and a distortion of the expected tolerance for criticism by public figures, whose actions should inherently face public scrutiny.

Most SLAPPs in Italy are brought under defamation laws, both civil and criminal. Additionally, emerging grounds for malicious legal actions include rules safeguarding privacy and the right to be forgotten. Currently, Italy lacks a dedicated mechanism for the timely archiving of abusive litigation. The protracted legal proceedings, often criticized by both the UN and the European Court of Human Rights, coupled with exorbitant compensation demands, amplify the risks posed by SLAPPs to freedom of media and expression in Italy.

The degree of freedom granted to debate and criticism constitutes the very essence of democratic societies and the information work on issues of public interest, carried out by journalists, activists and human rights defenders as guardians of democracy. This freedom is also the foundation of the participation of the entire society in public affairs.

Read the full position paper (in Italian)


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