The building of the European Parliament in Brussels – Photo: wikipedia

Fidesz MEP: EU’s stronger protections against SLAPPs give journalists, rights activists ‘privileges’

Erno Schaller-Baross, an MEP of ruling Fidesz, has said that a bill endorsed by the European Parliament on tightening the protection of journalists, human rights activists, researchers and artists against strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) constituted "unprecedented privileges" for those actors.

The Hungarian MEP issued a statement in reaction to a vote at an EP plenary session in Strasbourg on Tuesday which adopted a draft legislation on increased protection of those actors against SLAPPs, a particular form of harassment directed primarily against journalists and human rights defenders to prevent them from or penalise them for speaking up on issues of public interest.

The draft was adopted with 489 votes to 33 and 105 abstentions.

In his statement, Schaller-Baross said the outcome of the vote clearly went to show that “the representatives of the European left exclude civil organisations, rights groups and human rights activists from the jurisdiction of a member states and grant them unprecedented privileges”. “Under the proposal drafted by Brussels, civil organisations will no longer be subject to law, so we have entered an era of NGOs boasting privileges,” the MEP said.

He said civil organisations “have earned their privileges” by citing their mission to represent the cause of open society, insisting however that those organisations had not received a mandate by voters for such a mission.

“Any verdict delivered in that spirit can never be fair. A country where legislation and jurisdiction do not go together is not governed by the rule of law,” he said in the statement.

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