On Friday, Maria Ressa was arrested for violating anti-dummy laws, just the latest development in the series of criminal charges brought against her in connection with her role as CEO of Rappler. Rappler is an online news portal that has been critical of the ruling administration and that has been explicitly denounced by the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. The ABA Center for Human Rights is concerned by the potential political motivations behind the charges and will be closely tracking the proceedings against her to ensure that the government complies with international standards.
Various institutions and organizations have expressed concern that the proceedings against Ressa are a part of an overarching assault on media freedom and a closing of the civic space in the Philippines. Along with Ressa, the government has targeted Rappler’s board of directors, charging them with violating a foreign corporate ownership law. Further, the government has threatened to shut down Rappler as an organization operating in the Philippines.
The Center will be monitoring the situation to assess whether the Filipino authorities are complying with their treaty obligations to respect the rights to freedom of expression and to freedom of the press.