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Coalition Against SLAPPs in Africa (CASA)

About CASA

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Welcome to the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Africa (CASA) – a movement birthed from the urgent need to confront and dismantle the oppressive force of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) across our continent. Convened by the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) and the Bench Marks Foundation, CASA stands as a beacon of hope and resilience for activists, human rights defenders, and all those committed to preserving freedom of speech, accountability, and justice in Africa.

WHY CASA

The CASA is created to:

  • Incubate and support public watchdogs and advocates against SLAPPs.
  • Ensure solidarity in cases of SLAPPs under the principle “If one is targeted, all are targeted”.
  • Secure legal, technical, and financial support.
  • Profile and expose SLAPP suits and efforts of fighting these suits to challenge the culture of corporate bullying.

UNDERSTANDING SLAPPs

Stand Up Against the Silencers: The Battle Against SLAPPs

“SLAPPs – Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation – are not just lawsuits; they are weapons wielded to silence and intimidate. By targeting individuals and organizations daring to speak out on matters of public interest or challenge injustices, SLAPPs undermine our fundamental rights to free speech and healthy debate. The devastating consequences of SLAPPs, marked by drained resources and muzzled voices, underscore the pressing need for our collective action and legal reform.”

Why This Matters

Imagine facing a lawsuit not for being wrong, but for being heard. That’s the reality of SLAPPs. These suits, often baseless, are not about seeking justice. Their real purpose is to burden critics with the cost and hassle of a legal defence, pressuring them into silence. This tactic not only stifles debate but also undermines the principles of free speech and healthy discourse. It’s a manipulation of the legal system to serve personal or corporate interests, at the expense of public dialogue.

The Cost of Silence

The consequences of SLAPPs are dire: voices are muzzled, stories go untold, and injustices remain unchallenged. The financial strain can be immense, with legal defences stretching over years and costing thousands. Faced with this, many choose silence over the risk of financial ruin. This chilling effect on free speech is a loss for the entire society, stifling the exchange of ideas and the robust debates that are essential for a healthy democracy.

Your Voice Matters

This is not just a legal issue; it’s a call to action. SLAPPs represent a direct assault on our ability to engage in meaningful dialogue and hold power to account. It’s time to stand together for the right to speak, to debate, and to participate in the public arena without fear of retribution. Legal reform is crucial to protect individuals from these baseless legal threats and to ensure that free speech remains a cornerstone of our democratic society.

Join the movement to defend free speech and push back against SLAPPs. Your voice can help shape a future where public participation is celebrated, not suppressed. Let’s work together to safeguard our rights and foster a culture of open, healthy debate.

WHAT ARE SLAPPs

SLAPP suits are legal actions by powerful individuals or entities to intimidate and silence their critics by generating negative publicity. These suits are particularly damaging to free speech and healthy debate, as they often target individuals who communicate with their government or speak out on public issues. Despite having no legitimate legal claims against their critics, SLAPP suits are effective because they can force critics to spend significant time and resources defending themselves, even against meritless claims. The process can take years and cost thousands of dollars, which means many people agree to muzzle themselves, apologise, or “correct” statements to avoid these suits. SLAPP suits undermine the principles of free speech and healthy debate, which is why they are a serious concern.

OUR COMMITTEES

Within the structure of the CASA Coalition, our committees stand as foundational pillars, each addressing a unique front in the battle against SLAPPs. Our strategy is multidimensional, recognizing that combating SLAPPs requires concerted efforts in legal reforms, advocacy, media engagement, and community empowerment. These committees not only drive our mission forward but also offer a platform for members to contribute their skills, learn, and grow within a vibrant community dedicated to safeguarding democratic freedoms and human rights across Africa.

Core Areas and Initiatives

Tasked with guiding the coalition, the Governance Team is at the helm, leveraging the collective expertise of organizations committed to environmental advocacy, human rights, food sovereignty, and youth empowerment. This team steers the coalition, drawing on the strengths and insights of:

The team currently includes:

  • Regional Human Rights and Advocacy Networks: Highlighting our core mission to defend human rights with partners like the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network and Zambia Activist and Right Defenders Network.
  • Food Sovereignty and Environmental Sustainability Groups: Demonstrating our commitment to sustainability with members such as the West Coast Food Sovereignty and Solidarity Forum and Frack Free Namibia.
  • Youth and Community Empowerment Initiatives: Showcasing our investment in the future through collaborations with the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (Chad), Activista Zambia, and the STEMinist Foundation Ghana.
  • Legal and Policy Advocacy Entities: Strengthening our advocacy efforts with the expertise of organizations like the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) and Transparency International – Initiative Madagascar.
  • Sector-Specific and National Networks: Broadening our perspective with specialized knowledge from groups including the Centre for Environmental Rights, Asina Loyiko Campaign, Botswana Watch Organisation, and Care For Environment (Cameroon).

Each entity enriches our coalition, helping to draft terms of reference that reflect the diverse challenges and opportunities we face. Together, we amplify our voice in advocating for sustainable change and the protection of community rights and environments.

At the forefront of shaping public opinion and raising awareness about the pernicious effects of SLAPPs, this committee leverages the power of media. Through strategic communications, campaigns, and partnerships with journalists, they ensure that the message of our fight resonates far and wide.
This committee focuses on the grassroots level, strengthening community resistance to SLAPPs through education, empowerment programs, and the creation of support networks. They foster solidarity among activists, human rights defenders, and communities, amplifying the voices of those often silenced.
Knowledge is power. By compiling data, conducting research, and documenting cases of SLAPPs, this committee provides the evidence base that informs our strategies, advocacy, and legal actions. Their work underpins our efforts with hard facts and compelling narratives.
Dedicated to equipping our members and allies with the knowledge and skills to effectively counter SLAPPs, this committee organizes workshops, webinars, and training sessions. Covering legal tactics, advocacy strategies, and safety measures, they ensure our coalition is both resilient and informed.
Highlighting the importance of international solidarity partners and efforts to secure resources for legal defence, capacity-building initiatives, and mental health support.

CASA MEMBERS & PARTNERS

OrganisationCountryEmail
Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders NetworkSouth Africassidu@southernafricadefenders.africa
West Coast Food Sovereignty and Solidarity ForumSouth Africadavinewitbooi@gmail.com
Zambia Activist and Right Defenders NetworkZambiainfo.zardn@gmail.com
Content Creators Network ZimbabweZimbabwekudzayi@content.co.zw
Activista ZambiaZambiamansoorlukonde@gmail.com
Frack Free NamibiaNamibiafrackfreenamibia@gmail.com
Botswana Watch OrganisationBotswanabotswanawatch@gmail.com
Greater Whange Residents TrustZimbabwehratrust@gmail.com
Voice of The VulnerableNigeriasmithnwokocha@gmail.com
Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN)Chadadoumfils86@gmail.com
The STEMinist Foundation GhanaGhanaasabeastephanie@gmail.com
Musa Community Development and Sustainability OrganizationZambiachipashakeran@gmail.com
Care For EnvironmentCameroncfe.cmr18@gmail.com
Connected Advocacy for Empowerment and Youth Development InitiativeNigeriainfo@connectedadvocacy.org.ng
Botswana Khwedom CouncilBotswanamkmogodu@gmail.com
RAPEN (Associations for protecting environment and nature networks)Senegaldaoudalarry@gmail.com
Youth Alliance Sierra LeoneSierra Leoneyouthalliancesierraleone@gmail.com
GCEC-CAMEROUNCameroonmamerealain@gmail.com
African Cleanup InitiativeNigeriaalexakhigbe@gmail.com
Ufanisi Youth Advocacy AllianceKenyamurikipitchez@gmail.com
Rural Resilience transformationKenyaalexanderkisioi@gmail.com
Women for Green Economy Movement UgandaUgandaiteentwongirwe64@gmail.com
Transparency International - Initiative MadagascarMadagascarcontact@transparency.mg
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)Zimbabwemutusod@zela.org
Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD)Zimbabwezimcodd@zimcodd.co.zw
Centre for Environmental Policy and AdvocacyMalawiinfo@cepa.org.mw
Centre for Environmental Rights, Asina Loyiko CampaignSouth Africalgovindsamy@cer.org.za
Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS)South Africabusisiwe.kamolane@wits.ac.za
Southern African Miners Association (SAMA)Eswatinivamajele@gmail.com
Wits School of LawSouth Africatumai.murombo@wits.ac.za

The CASA work is supported by the Ford Foundation.

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