Over the last few years, journalists and whistle-blowers have been confronted to gag orders. As evidenced by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe in 2021, the scale of the problem constitutes a severe threat on freedom of speech. By altering the public debate, gag orders, more commonly named «SLAPPs» (strategic lawsuits against public participation), have a detrimental effect on the course of our institutions and our democracy.
The 2020 annual report of the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists already highlighted the potential danger of these unfounded court procedures by influential natural or legal persons aiming to intimidate journalists in order for them to give up on their work. The States have ignored this call to vigilance.
Therefore, in order to fight SLAPPs effectively, it would be necessary to prevent the exercise of these abusive recourses, introduce measures to sanction abuses, and reduce to a minimum the consequences of SLAPPs, by providing concrete assistance to people subject to these procedures.
The Parliamentary Assembly should examine the issue of SLAPPs and provide a comprehensive response to this issue.