Browse By:

Clear Filters x

Volume 22 - Issue 2


SLAPP Suits: An Encroachment on Human Rights of a Global Proportion and What Can Be Done About It

Prather, Laura | December 3, 2023

Freedom of expression is the underpinning of all other freedoms. Yet, increasingly, journalists, citizens, advocacy groups, whistleblowers, academics, and media organizations are being targeted and subjected to judicial harassment for informing the public about matters of public concern, denouncing authoritarian regimes, and exposing wrongdoing. These meritless lawsuits do not seek to right a wrong, but rather to silence and intimidate critics. They are known as “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation” (“SLAPP” suits) and are on the rise globally. Because SLAPP suits are designed to inhibit ongoing investigations, stifle informed public debate, and prevent legitimate public interest reporting, they present a threat to democracy and strike at the core of human rights.

The antidote to SLAPP suits is the passage of Anti-SLAPP legislation. While the United States has a vast body of state legislative experiences passing Anti-SLAPP laws over the last thirty years, the passage of a federal Anti-SLAPP law has remained elusive. More recently, the European Union and the United Kingdom recognized the dangers SLAPP suits present to democracy, and both have catapulted into action to address them. Much can be learned from the swift international action of raising awareness, educating lawmakers and judges, pursuing accountability for lawyers, and maintaining best practices in the implementation of Anti-SLAPP laws.

Still, because this phenomenon is a global one, we should consider mining the lessons learned from the U.S. experience and scaling the EU and UK models to impede “forum shopping” by perpetrators who are willing to punish their exposers. The need to establish infrastructures for the development of supranational policies and consider best practices for addressing the rise of SLAPP suits is not just about protecting journalists from abusive behavior, but also about preserving the ability of the public to obtain accurate information, considering diverse interests and perspectives, and engage in vital discourse about their governments and communities.

Human Rights Without Borders

Chacon, Christian Gonzalez | January 30, 2024

In the current global context, millions of people are forced to migrate yearly for reasons ranging from persecution and violence, internal armed conflicts, and forced displacement, to lack of employment and climate change. In the Americas, we recently witnessed the phenomenon of the “migrant caravans,” where thousands of people, mostly from the Northern Triangle of Central America—El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala— were willing to walk hundreds of miles to enter the U.S.-Mexico border to escape poverty and violence in their countries. Another caravan of close to 10,000 migrants from the Northern Triangle of Central America including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, as well as Venezuela, Haiti, and other countries, formed in Mexico in 2022 with the goal of entering the United States. The deteriorating political and economic situation in Venezuela over the past few decades has produced a humanitarian crisis in migration. There are currently at least six million Venezuelan migrants and refugees globally.

The extent and inhumanity of irregular migration is the symbol—and consequence—of the failure of the human rights project as a mechanism to guarantee global justice. There is an abyssal line that divides communities of rights and systems of oppression when it is not possible for migrants to move freely from one place to another.

International experts and scholars have suggested that the solution to dehumanization at the borders is a human rights-based approach to migration and border governance that ensures respect for migrants’ rights. This, however, sorely lacks the backing of hard law. Hence, in the context of migration, we hear repeatedly of “humanitarianism,” suggesting that our treatment of the other at the border is oriented by kindness and humanity, not legal mandate or duty.

This paper shall argue that the humanitarian discourse hides the fact that the core of the migration problem is that rights are linked to nationality and not to humanity. Rights are “trump cards held by individuals” that should be respected by the nation state of which one is a citizen or to which one belongs. Human rights fails to realize the ideal of universal justice because they naturalize the border, the Nation State, and sovereignty. In brief, we live in a context of human rights that seek to guarantee peace through the division and separation that sovereignty bestows, rather than through the construction of a global community of rights. I shall argue that we need to revitalize human rights as a project of global justice without borders. To do this, the community of human rights scholars must rethink the relationship of rights to the Nation State and move beyond its imagined and confined community.

If human rights seek to be a true project of global justice without borders, it needs to rethink the foundation of rights and head toward a foundation linked more to capabilities, harmony, and sustainability. Rights should be conferred on individuals not based on their nationality, but on their capabilities to flourish. Further, rights are not dependent merely on autonomy or sovereignty, they have a basis in a global community that seeks to restore peace and harmony between living beings. Rights serve the dual purpose of protecting us from the State while also fostering positive connections with other individuals.