The European Commission headquarters is seen in Brussels, Belgium, on April 23, 2020. CPJ recently joined a joint letter to the EU calling for reform of the group's defamation law. (Reuters/Johanna Geron)

CPJ joins call for reform of EU defamation law

May 20, 2020 1:20 PM ET

The Committee to Protect Journalists joined 25 other press freedom organizations today in sending a joint letter to the European Commission calling for reforms to European Union law on defamation.

The letter included a legal analysis, produced by the University of Aberdeen, recommending the reform of two cornerstones of EU law, known as Brussels I and Rome II, to put an end to the practice of litigants pursuing cases in jurisdictions unrelated to their cases.

The analysis also suggests that the EU limit the abusive practice of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs), which require, among other things, journalists to make repeated court appearances and pay exorbitant legal fees.

The letter calls for an EU directive to introduce legal safeguards to protect journalists against SLAPPs.

CPJ documented defamation concerns in Europe in a 2015 report on EU press freedom.

The letter can be read in full here.