Daphne's Law is now official

16 April 2024

Daphne’s Law, the EU’s anti-SLAPP directive adopted by the European Parliament on 27th February this year, was published today in the Official Gazette, six years and six months to the day since Daphne was assassinated on 16th October 2017.

Daphne’s Law sets minimum standards for protecting journalists, activists, academics, and other public watchdogs against abusive litigation across the EU. Malta now has 24 months to transpose the provisions of the directive into national legislation, as a first step to ensuring that abusers will no longer be able to weaponise the law to silence their critics.

The EU anti-SLAPP directive was brought about by a coalition of the willing in Malta and beyond, inspired by the horrific experience of Daphne Caruana Galizia who faced 48 abusive lawsuits at the time of her assassination, some of which are still active more than six years and six months after her death.

National legislation across the EU must meet or exceed the standards set by Daphne’s Law and the human rights standards set by the Council of Europe Recommendation adopted by the Committee of Minister on 5th April 2024. In line with the European Commission’s anti-SLAPP Recommendation, new anti-SLAPP legislation across the EU must be accompanied by other measures, including training of the judiciary and lawyers, to ensure that the anti-SLAPP system is robust.

In September 2021, Malta had promised to be the first European country to introduce anti-SLAPP legislation and Prime Minister Abela recently said he would like the directive to be implemented as soon as possible. It is now up to Malta’s government and parliament to ensure this happens without compromising the spirit and standards of Daphne’s Law.