Huge Win on Pesticides and SLAPPs

Huge Win on Pesticides and SLAPPs

With thousands of us supporting them, activists fought back against their local government and the rich food industry and won!

They spoke up against the use of pesticides in Northern Italy, famous for its apples. But the local government and the food industry - who are not used to being challenged - weren’t going to accept this.

With millions of euros at stake, they were willing to do anything to protect profits at the expense of our health. So they brought more than 1,300 lawsuits to intimidate and silence local activists. [2]

This is when our community stepped in. The quiet mountain region of South Tyrol relies heavily on tourism and absolutely hates bad publicity. They were not used to seeing European people power in action. So we organised a protest and spread our message in multiple languages, attracting a lot of attention and bringing bad press to South Tyrol. [3]

Earlier this month, courts in Northern Italy dropped the last remaining lawsuit. [4] This result shows that when we come together we can help local activists stand up to governments and companies.

But this win isn’t just about a few activists in Northern Italy. It’s about stopping intimidating lawsuits across Europe. And it’s about everyone in Europe being able to take on decision makers without being bullied into silence.

And the person who could stop these lawsuits in Europe took notice, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Vera Jourová. She publicly showed support for our win. [5] And we hope this victory gives her the momentum to ensure the EU protects activists from intimidating lawsuits. [6]

Screenshot of tweet by Věra Jourová stating "Glad to see this example of #antiSLAPP ruling in a cross-border case. We need more awareness about the dangers of abusive litigation against #journalists and civil society and strong safeguards to neutralize the harmful effects on public participation."

When activists contacted us back in 2020, they were filled with panic and anxiety. They could face huge fines and were scared about taking on a government and a rich industry. Now, there is a sense of relief that justice was done. Today, we can celebrate that when we come together, no one is too big to take on. Justice can prevail!

References: [1] Earlier this month, activists stood outside a courtroom in Northern Italy after a huge win for freedom of expression and in the fight to stop pesticides. [2] Many European companies, powerful individuals and governments have started using intimidating and costly lawsuits to stop freedom of expression. These lawsuits are often referred to as Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation or SLAPPs. These damaging suits chill free speech and healthy debate by targeting those who communicate with their government or speak out on issues of public interest. SLAPPs are used to silence and harass critics by forcing them to spend money to defend these baseless suits. See, [3] [4] [5] [6]

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