Philippines Urged to Dismiss Pending Prosecution of Nobel Prize Winner Maria Ressa
Nobel Peace Prize Winner Maria Ressa Cleared of Tax Evasion Charges: HRW, Amnesty International Urge Authorities to Drop Other Pending Charges
Nobel Peace Prize winner and journalist Maria Ressa was acquitted of charges of tax evasion in a Philippine court on Wednesday (01.18.2023), prompting Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) to call on the authorities to drop the rest of the charges against her.
Carlos Conde, HRW’s Philippines researcher, echoed Ressa’s proclaimed sentiment that “facts win, truth wins, justice wins”, calling the judgment “good news” and a “victory for press freedom in the Philippines”. “We hope that now the rest of the courts that are in charge of the other equally questionable charges against Maria and her colleagues from Rappler (her news portal) rule in the same way,” Conde added.
Butch Olano, AI director in the Philippines, welcomed the withdrawal of the tax evasion charges, but also urged the authorities to “do the same with the cyber defamation charges and the others that are still pending on it, to so that [Ressa] can continue to do her job”. AI believes that Ressa and her portal Rappler are the victims of politically motivated cases.
The journalist and her news portal Rappler have been critical of former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, and Ressa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2021 for her outlet’s investigations into his controversial war on drugs and for her fight against disinformation.
AI hopes that the current government of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will “ensure that strong measures are put in place to investigate the human rights violations reported by journalists.”
With this landmark acquittal, the world will be watching to see if the authorities will follow HRW and AI’s calls for Ressa and her colleagues at Rappler to have their other equally questionable cases dropped.