Philippines: Maria Ressa conviction is an attack on press freedom

Philippines: Maria Ressa conviction is an attack on press freedom - Protection

Investigative journalist Maria Ressa was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov on 8 October 2021

Today, a court in Manila convicted journalists Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos, Jr. on libel charges under the Cybercrime Prevention Act. Ressa is the founder and editor of Rappler, an award-winning online media outlet. Ressa was named one of Time Magazine’s 2018 Persons of the Year for her courageous reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Santos is a former Rappler reporter.

The charges stem from a 2012 Rappler article describing links between a wealthy businessman and the Chief Justice of the Philippines Supreme Court. The proceedings were beset by fair trial concerns. Ressa and Santos were sentenced to six months to six years imprisonment and released on bail pending an appeal.

Matthew Bugher, ARTICLE 19’s Head of Asia Programme, said:

“The conviction of Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos, Jr. is further evidence of the rapid disintegration of media freedom in the Philippines. Rappler journalists have played an indispensable role in reporting on human rights abuses and combatting misinformation. The conviction stands in stark contrast to Ressa’s and Rappler’s sterling reputations, which are backed up by many well-deserved awards.

“At a time when investigative reporting is badly needed in the Philippines, the work of independent journalists is becoming extremely dangerous. Philippine courts, which should be a bulwark against the president’s attacks on the media, have unfortunately demonstrated their willingness to be used as instruments of retaliation and control.”

For more information contact:

Matthew Bugher, Head of Asia Programme, matthew@article19.org, +66 617464208