Letter to Serbian Crime and Corruption Investigative Network (KRIK)

Dear friends at the Crime and Corruption Investigative Network (KRIK),

We are writing to express our outrage at a recent Serbian High Court verdict ordering  your organisation to pay compensation to police officers identified in an article on SLAPP cases brought against you. The verdict also placed a ban on publishing the article on your website.

SLAPPs currently plague honest journalism and this case the procedure has reached a height of absurdity in that you were convicted of merely reporting on the number of SLAPPs (twelve) which have been brought against you and naming those institutions and individuals responsible for these cases.

The issue of SLAPPs and how to combat them is currently being considered by the European Union as well as the Council of Europe and other international organisations. Progress, if slow, is being made. However, it would be simpler if lawyers, in solidarity with free media, were to refuse to take on such cases and if judges were to promptly dismiss SLAPP cases as evident examples of a waste of court time and the money spent by both plaintiffs and defendants.

We are amazed that judge Slobodan Keranovic was unable to recognise that he had been asked to adjudicate a case which should never have been brought to trial. Any right minded person should have realised that this case was part of campaign which Stevan Dojcinovic, the KRIK editor described as „the (Serbian) regime’s main tool for shutting down the few remaining independent media outlets” in your country.

We support you and other professional journalist organisations in Serbia who have said that the verdict in this case „was against freedom of expression of journalists”.

We appeal to media freedom organisations in the European Union and beyond to support KRIK in its struggle to defend freedom of expression in Serbia.

We appeal to lawyers and judges in Serbia to refuse to take part in SLAPP cases as a clear waste of time and money of a court system one of whose priorities should be to uphold freedom of speech and the rule of law rather to destroy these values.

Society of Journalists, Poland

Warsaw May 24 2023

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