Vice President of the European Commission Vera Jourova said that the criminalization of defamation could have a negative impact on censorship and the freedom of expression in Member States and candidate states.
Exit asked Jourova whether she was in favor of the decriminalization of defamation in Member States and candidate countries. She said:
“In my view, it’s something that should be considered by states…it’s my opinion that tools provided by civil or administrative law should be used in these cases.”
Linda Ravo from the Coalition Against SLAPP said that the call to decriminalize defamation is one that is echoed by the Council of Europe.
“Provisions criminalizing defamation have such a serious chilling effect on freedom of expression, besides being further weaponized through the use of SLAPPs.”
The Coalition has presented a model directive to the EU which contains safeguards against SLAPPs and criminal defamation.
In Albania, defamation is both a criminal and civil matter. SLAPP suits are also used against journalists throughout the country, and other vexatious suits are used to silence and intimidate. Rather than decriminalization, the government is looking to introduce more laws that will increase penalties for defamation as a criminal offense.
Exit also revealed how the government has made changes to the electoral code which will levy large fines and 48-hour closures for TV stations that breach broad rules around reporting on the upcoming general election.