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NUJ welcomes improved protections

The National Union of Journalists has welcomed improved protections for journalists targeted with lawfare.

NUJ welcomes improved protections
Séamus Dooley: "Attacks on journalism using SLAPPs pose an immediate threat to democracy and the public’s right to information.”

The National Union of Journalists says The European Council has adopted the anti-SLAPP directive with safeguards to protect media freedom and journalists facing strategic lawsuits against public participation.

The directive will mean improved safeguards for journalists in the European Union targeted by claimants using SLAPPs to harass and prevent public interest journalism. Also known as Daphne's Law, legislation is named after journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who faced 48 lawsuits when killed in 2017.

Provisions included in the anti-SLAPP directive allow for courts to dismiss “manifestly unfounded” or abusive cases at an early stage with compensation provided to defendants. Claimants will also shoulder the cost of proceedings including the legal costs of journalists, and the directive allows for a more broad definition of "cross-border", ensuring all relevant claims fall within scope of the directive.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, said: "Attacks on journalism using SLAPPs pose an immediate threat to democracy and the public’s right to information. The Council's adoption of the anti-SLAPP directive is a historic moment welcomed by the union, and we urge member states to use standards outlined as a minimum, proactively seeking strengthened protections where possible to ensure actions by those seeking to stymie journalism by abusing legal processes are stopped.

"We still await reform of Ireland’s defamation laws, long overdue and urgently needed. The failure to reform defamation law is a serious failure on the part of successive governments."

The NUJ says it continues to campaign for robust legislation in the UK and Ireland through its engagement with governments.

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