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.)
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The EU has adopted an anti-SLAPP directive that effectively protects environmentalists and journalists from abusive lawsuits. The goal of the petition, which was supported by EU Commissioner Věra Jourová, has been achieved!

The destruction of Papua’s rainforests is an issue that has even reached the Hamburg Regional Court – and put Rainforest Rescue in the dock, for allegedly defaming the company cutting down the forest! 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, took 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

Nevertheless, Kenertec sued 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.

This is 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 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. Umweltinstitut München, a German environmental watchdog, was sued unsuccessfully for criticizing pesticide use use in apple orchards in northern Italy.

But like many others, Rainforest Rescue will not be silenced! In February 2023, the plaintiff dropped all claims in a settlement proposed by the court and agreed to pay three-quarters of the litigation costs. 

The case nevertheless hindered our work – mounting a defense sapped resources that we could have devoted to our mission instead. The suit could also have had a chilling effect on activists in Indonesia if they had felt 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

Success · Feb 27, 2024

EU puts a stop to abusive SLAPP lawsuits

Graphic: SLAPP suits are intended to silence critics

The EU is finally getting a directive to combat strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs. Environmental activists and journalists in Europe will now have better protection against such lawsuits. The new directive will make it harder for corporations and powerful individuals to silence critics with abusive lawsuits.

more

News · Nov 12, 2021

European Parliament votes to curb abusive SLAPP lawsuits

Progress has been made to protect activists against abusive lawsuits by companies and powerful individuals: 444 members of the European Parliament voted in favor of Europe-wide regulations to curb so-called SLAPP suits. It is now up to the European Commission to take action.

more

News · Jul 16, 2021

Palm oil company Korindo stripped of FSC label

The Indonesian palm oil and timber company Korindo is losing its FSC seal. According to the FSC, the reason for the expulsion is that Korindo cleared forests for oil palm plantations and contributed to the degradation and potential destruction of high conservation value forests. Korindo is also accused of violating the participation rights of local people.

more
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., The CASE and SumOfUs.

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