Croatian environmental activists 'SLAPP'ed with lawsuit

Investors are pressing legal charges against environmental activists for trying to halt the development of a luxury golf course near Dubrovnik. The lawsuit has no other purpose than to frighten NGOs into silence with a long, costly trial.

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Croatian environmental activists 'SLAPP'ed with lawsuit - NewsMavens
Activism. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

This is the first Croatian case of “strategic lawsuit against public participation” --  the so-called "SLAPP" strategy -- which aims to censor and intimidate opponents by forcing them to spend money to defend themselves during expensive and time-consuming court trials. 

For example, in 2017 Canadian logging company Resolute Forest Products Inc. filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Greenpeace in response to the organization’s advocacy work against deforestation. The lawsuit was dismissed in court, but the NGO still incurred significant costs.

Although criticized by civil society worldwide, the trick has proven to be effective for many corporations.

If the Croatian golf course case effectively takes the environmental groups out of the game, we can expect the trend to catch on throughout the Balkans. 


Details from the story:

  • The Dutch company “Elitech” and the Croatian company “Razvoj Golf” is suing the activists of the environmental association "Zelena akcija" for damages to their golf course project. The latter would transform the plateau of Dubrovnik's Srđ hill into a luxury golf resort complex. 
  • The investors claim that the complex would enrich the existing tourist attractions of Dubrovnik with a variety of sporting and recreational facilities, hotels and restaurants.
  • Civil society groups claim the contrary -- that the project will harm the environment and jeopardize the UNESCO-protected area of Dubrovnik. 
  • Activists filed several lawsuits against the construction of the resort on Srđ hill over the past decade. As a result, construction permits were denied. However, last year they were re-issued after investors submitted a compensation claim worth 500 million euros against the Republic of Croatia at the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). 
  • Additionally, investors sued Croatian activists, claiming 27,000 euros of compensation. If the court judges in favor of the investors, "Zelena akcija" might be forced to close down. 
  • According to "Zelena Akcija", in addition to damage fees, the investors are also requesting that representatives of "Zelena Akcija" be barred from approaching their premises.
inbox_large_illu Created with Sketch.
Tired of the news media’s prevailing male perspective? We are too.

Get our newsletters composed exclusively by female journalists from all over Europe.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at