On 29 June 2023, with the support and partnership of the Council of Europe, GDI hosted the first Georgian anti-SLAPP Conference.
Stefan Sirbu, the Deputy Head of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia, Eduard Marikashvili, Head of the Georgian Democracy Initiative, and Tamar Gvaramadze, the first Deputy Public Defender of Georgia, opened the event.
The SLAPPs are widely recognized tools to curb freedom of expression, as well as public participation, and refer to filing unfounded lawsuits by politically or economically influential persons against active members of society (journalists, NGOs, activists). the threats posed by SLAPPs have a “chilling effect” on everyone actively engaged in public life and trying to take a stand on issues of public importance. In 2021-2023, the tendency towards SLAPPs can be observed in Georgia too. At this stage, no less than 38 defamation cases are pending in the general courts of Georgia. These lawsuits have similar characteristics and bear systematic nature.
The First Georgian Anti-SLAPP Conference aims at facilitating the discussion around the SLAPPs tendency worldwide and particularly, in Georgia. Herewith, it is a first attempt to raise awareness about SLAPPs in Georgia and to identify solutions to them. Various interested parties, such as experts from Europe, the USA, and Georgia, as well as the representatives of media, civil society, the justice system, the association of lawyers, etc. participated in the panel discussions. The event has also become the occasion for establishing the Georgian anti-SLAPP platform by Civil Society Organisations.
The conference was held in the framework of the Council of Europe project “Strengthening Media Freedom, Internet Governance and Personal Data Protection in Georgia”, in partnership with the Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI). The conference was supported by the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia, the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE), Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) and USAID Rule of Law Program implemented by the East-West Management Institute (EWMI).