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Philippines: Government Should Release Journalist and Cease Attacks on the Media
Following the arrest and detention of Maria Ressa, co-founder and executive editor of the online news outlet Rappler, in a cyber libel case, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Freedom House calls on authorities to immediately release Maria Ressa, drop all related charges filed against her and other Rappler reporters, and end its continued assault on the press,” said Sarah Repucci, senior director of research and analysis. “At a moment of rising threats to press freedom, now is the time for US leaders to demonstrate their unequivocal support for journalists like Ressa and, more broadly, for the invaluable role played by independent media in a democracy.”
In Freedom in the World 2019, press freedom scores fell in four out of six regions in the world. The Philippines, which continues to be on a downward trajectory for independent media, remains one of the least safe places for journalists to work. Since his election in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has fueled this alarming situation with hostile anti-media rhetoric. Rappler, which has criticized Duterte’s war on drugs, has been a favorite target of the government and has been denigrated as “fake news.” In 2018, the government ordered Rappler’s closure for violating foreign equity restrictions, banned its reporters from covering the president and entering the presidential palace, and charged Ressa with tax evasion.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.