Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2022

Degree Type

Honors Thesis


International Studies

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Studies

First Advisor

John Zarobell


This research critically examines the legal systems of European countries and their relationship to press freedom. This research focuses on the vexatious legal threats used by government officials and corporations to silence journalists. These legal threats are known as SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation) and their use has increased exponentially in the last decade. Considering the scope of the problem, this research analyzes the issue through the lens of European countries Greece, Italy, and Hungary. Being members of the European Union, each of these countries have an obligation to uphold the democratic standards put forth by the EU as well as international agreements regarding human rights. Journalists are a vital aspect of the democratic processes of each of these countries, and are protected by both domestic laws and binding international agreements. In recent years, SLAPPs targeted at journalists served by politicians and authoritative figures have made their role difficult. The intention behind each case being questionable. This research aims to answer the question of whether current domestic and international law is being enforced in a manner that protects journalistic authority. Corruption within governments who are stated as democracies is on the rise, and the inability of European countries to recognize and prevent these attacks against journalists is cause for increasing concern. The current governmental systems in place show a declining respect for the profession of journalism and the increase in legal threats targeted at journalists insinuates a shift from democratic values to more authoritarian practices. This leaves both governments and civil society vulnerable to corruption.