23 January 2023

Access to Information Programme (AIP) and the Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria (AEJ) call on Bulgaria’s Minister of Justice Krum Zarkov to support the European Commission’s actions to tackle abusive litigation. The legal initiative is aimed at strengthening protection of journalists and human rights defenders against vexatious trials, known as SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation).

 

SLAPP cases operate through the litigation process in an attempt to intimate and silence investigative journalists and civil human rights defenders. 

 

In recent years SLAPPs cases have become widespread. Last spring the European Commission introduced a legal initiative for protection against this specific type of litigation. The Anti-SLAPP initiative calls on EU member states to take actions that would prevent the rising threat of legal harassment of journalists and civil society. The Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe, CASE, an organization which brings together a number of human rights and media watchdogs, has welcomed the EU’s anti-SLAPP proposal and actively supported its adoption. 

 

Bulgaria has been continuously criticized for the poor state of its media freedom and judiciary. Thus, it is essential that the country supports all European measures aimed at strengthening press freedom, and, more precisely, protecting journalists against abusive and unfounded lawsuits. Therefore, we call on Minister Zarkov and the responsible Bulgarian authorities to urgently support the EU’s proposed legislation that will establish legal safeguards against SLAPP cases.