On 31st of Jan. 2023, representatives of Access to Information Programme and the Association of European Journalists - Bulgaria (AEJ) met the Minister of Justice Krum Zarkov.
The meeting was held to discuss a call by the two organizations on the Minister of Justice 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).
During the meeting minister Zarkov presented the progress of the working group on the European Commission legal initiative for developing a directive for protection against SLAPP litigation and informed that on the same day (31st of Jan.) the 9th meeting is being held in Brussels with the participation of Bulgarian experts from the Ministry of Justice. The Bulgarian position is the necessity of developing measures to improve the protection of journalists, civil human rights defenders and civil society activists against abusive unfounded lawsuits. These types of legal proceedings are a certian form of harassment and intimidation used to prevent or sanction speech on matters of public interest.
AIP is a member of the Council for the Rule of Law and the topic for protection of individuals and organizations against SLAPPs trails is a part of the Council’s Program. AIP and AEJ are also members of the working group created to support the Council on the matter.
Alexander Kashumov, AIP executive director, declared that AIP is prepared to provide support in the analyses on SLAPP lawsuits and in identifying specific solutions.