Protecting public watchdogs across the EU: A proposal for…

Protecting public watchdogs across the EU: A proposal for an EU anti-SLAPP law

MFRR partners are among 60 organisations coming together to demonstrate what an Anti-SLAPP directive for the EU would look like

SLAPP suits are a form of legal harassment. Pursued by law firms on behalf of powerful individuals and organisations who seek to avoid public scrutiny, their aim is to drain the target’s financial and psychological resources and chill critical voices to the detriment of public participation.

This paper was drafted at the initiative of a coalition of non-governmental organisations from across Europe that have been working together over the past years to raise awareness and urge policy makers to protect public watchdogs such as journalists, rights defenders, activists and whistleblowers from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs).

As democracy and the rule of law come increasingly under pressure in a number of member states, this paper supports the call on EU policymakers by the undersigned organisations to urgently put forward an EU anti-SLAPP Directive to protect public watchdogs that help hold the powerful to account and keep the democratic debate alive.


Hungary: Legal Opinion on COVID-19 Response

Hungary’s Two Pandemics: COVID-19 and Attacks on Media Freedom

A legal opinion commissioned by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) finds that the Hungarian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic fails to live up to domestic or European legal standards and entrenches the country’s attacks on independent media outlets, journalists and media workers.

In March 2020, the Hungarian Government proclaimed a State of Danger, passed a number of decrees and adopted a new bill; the Authorisation Act, in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Authorisation Act gave the Government enhanced powers to rule by decree, enabling it to bring forward, amend or withdraw legislation and amend the Hungarian Criminal Code to expand the definition of the crime of “Scaremongering”. Due to the ruling party coalition’s two-thirds majority in Parliament, these changes were swiftly adopted and implemented. Recently, the Hungarian Government has stated its intention to repeal the State of Danger. However, it is unclear whether this repeal will cover all changes made and what mechanisms will be in place to identify and address the short- and long-term impact of these amendments on media freedom.

In this legal opinion commissioned by ECPMF as part of the MFRR, Dr. Polyák Gábor of the Mertek Media Monitor (CMDS) highlights the changes brought forward by the Hungarian Government, how they threaten the already-fragile state of media freedom in Hungary and what they mean for Hungarian and European legal standards.