“There certainly appears to be a worrying trend around the world where powerful companies or public officials attempt to censor public participation on matters of public interest through lawsuits, for instance in the law of defamation,” explained Dario Milo, a South Africa-based attorney who specializes in communication law and is a member of the European Union’s Expert Group on SLAPPs.
The practice of independent journalism is facing enormous challenges, ranging from authoritarian regimes implementing regressive laws that stifle speech to journalists being unable to make a living from their work. In order to meet those challenges, journalists can benefit from understanding the protections provided by international law.
While legal notices can result in civil or criminal defamation cases, journalists in India say companies are using them as part of a tactic known as Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP, in an effort to intimidate or censor them. Indian journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta spoke to Aayush Soni about the increasingly popular intimidation tactic.
The Global Investigative Journalism Network is calling on Nigerian authorities to immediately drop all charges against the publisher and a reporter for the investigative news site Premium Times. In a letter sent to Nigerian officials today, GIJN Executive Director David E. Kaplan called the charges “an attempt to intimidate Premium Times from independent inquiry.”