UN expert raises alarm over attacks against PH independent media

“The criminalization of journalists for libel impedes public interest reporting and is incompatible with the right to freedom of expression”

By DANIEL ASIDO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression Irene Khan assailed the recent waves of attacks on media freedom in the Philippines, urging Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to end the crackdown and decriminalize libel.

“I am deeply concerned by recent developments in the Philippines to silence independent and investigative journalism in the country. I call on the new administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to put an end to the criminalization of libel,” Khan said in a statement.

This comes after the Court of Appeals (CA) upheld a Manila court’s cyber libel conviction of Rappler’s chief Maria Ressa and former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr.

The criminalization of libel, said Khan, “impedes public interest reporting and is incompatible with the right to freedom of expression. Criminal libel law has no place in a democratic country and should be repealed.”

Apart from the upholding of the cyber libel conviction, the Securities and Exchange Commission also revoked Rappler’s certificates of incorporation.

Meanwhile, online news Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, along with 25 other websites were ordered blocked by the Philippine government. The said order, which is being challenged before a Quezon City court, is now under review, said National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos.

“I am deeply concerned by recent developments in the Philippines to silence independent and investigative journalism in the country. I call on the new Administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to put an end to the criminalisation of libel, withdraw the charges against Maria Ressa, reverse the decisions against Rappler, Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, and investigate promptly and effectively all attacks and killings of journalists,” Khan said. (JJE) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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