Protect democracy now: stop abusive lawsuits!

Graphic: SLAPP suits are intended to silence critics SLAPP suits are intended to silence critics (© Umweltinstitut München e.V.)

The destruction of Papua’s rainforests is an issue that has even reached the Hamburg Regional Court – and Rainforest Rescue in the dock, for allegedly defaming the company committing the environmental crimes! All over the EU, the rich and powerful are suing their critics to shut them up. We need EU protection against these SLAPP suits.

News and updates Call to action

To: Vice-President of the European Commission Jourová and EU Commissioner Reynders

“Protect democracy now: stop abusive lawsuits!”

Read letter

Kenertec, an Indonesian company that claims to be part of the Korindo Group, is taking Rainforest Rescue to court. Korindo is a conglomerate of companies that are destroying rainforests for palm oil and timber, especially in the Indonesian province of Papua.

Rainforest Rescue spoke out against the deforestation and documented it with photos, videos and statements from locals. The destruction of the rainforests is one of the greatest environmental crimes of our time.

Nevertheless, Kenertec is suing Rainforest Rescue before the regional court in Hamburg, Germany in an effort to get us to revoke our criticism and remain silent in the future. We see this lawsuit is nothing more than an effort to intimidate and silence environmentalists.

We see this as a textbook example of a strategic lawsuit against public participation or SLAPP. Companies and powerful individuals are increasingly launching abusive legal actions in European courts against journalists, activists, NGOs, rights defenders, whistleblowers and other public watchdogs who speak up in the public interest.

Prominent examples include Umweltinstitut München, a German environmental watchdog that is being sued for criticizing pesticide use use in apple orchards in northern Italy, or the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who had 47 SLAPP cases pending against her in Malta at the time she was murdered by a car bomb.

But like many others, Rainforest Rescue will not be silenced! The fight for rainforests would not be possible if activists were not allowed to name the perpetrators.

The case is nevertheless hindering our work – mounting a defense is sapping resources that we could devote to our mission instead. The suit could also have a chilling effect on activists in Indonesia if they were to think that even judges in Germany are on Korindo’s side.

An alliance of journalists, environmentalists, human rights defenders and other organizations have launched a joint petition calling on the European Commission to take action to stop SLAPPs. Please sign it and do your part to protect freedom of speech.

Back­ground

Several organizations have produced extensive studies on Korindo:

Mighty Earth: Burning Paradise, Sept. 2016

Forensic Architecture: Intentional Fires in Papua, Nov. 12, 2020

Greenpeace: Burning down the house, Nov. 4, 2019

Rainforest Action Network (RAN): Perilous: Korindo, land grabbing and banks, 11/2018

RAN: Korindo exposed, Nov. 11, 2018

FSC Report, Aug. 2020

Mighty Earth: Conclusions of FSC complaint…, Nov. 5, 2019

Papers, articles and studies on SLAPPs:

We don't want to be sued into silence, November 16, 2020, a position paper by 87 NGOs, including Rainforest Rescue

Ending Gag Lawsuits in Europe, June 9, 2020, a position paper by 119 NGOs, including Rainforest Rescue

Open letter to the European Commission concerning the threat of vexatious litigation against journalists ... May 19, 2020, by 26 NGOs, mainly from the media

European Centre for Press & Media Freedom: Legal Advice, May 20, 2020

SLAPP: The background of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, undated

EPP Group: MEPs continue to pile on pressure for anti-SLAPP legislation, Feb. 22, 2018

Greenpeace: SLAPPs - How the rich and powerful use legal tactics to shut critics up, July 22, 2020

Greenpeace study: Sued into silence, July 2020

Letter

To: Vice-President of the European Commission Jourová and EU Commissioner Reynders

Dear Vice-President Jourová, Dear Commissioner Reynders,

We call on the European Commission to urgently put forward a proposal for EU rules that protect journalists, activists, NGOs, rights defenders, whistleblowers and other public watchdogs who speak up in the public interest from abusive legal actions launched by powerful individuals and companies.

We need this protection to hold the powerful to account.

EU rules to stop strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are within reach. An EU anti-SLAPP law would provide for a strong and uniform level of protection against SLAPPs in all EU member states and serve as a model for countries in wider Europe and beyond.

Let the EU be a champion of democracy. Take action to stop SLAPPs.

Yours faithfully,

News and updates Footnotes

documented it with photos, videos and statements from locals

Several organizations have produced extensive studies on Korindo's activities. You can find links to these in the background section of this petition.


SLAPPFor further information on SLAPP suits, please see the background section of this petition.


journalists, activists, NGOs, rights defenders, whistleblowers and other public watchdogs

Many environmentalists, activists and communities in rainforest countries face existential threats from abuse of the law or from lawlessness. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, three men were murdered, presumably by security forces in the context of a conflict over palm oil plantations belonging to the company PHC.


joint petition

The number of participants shown corresponds to the signatures collected together with our alliance partners Umweltinstitut München e.V. and The CASE.

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