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Maria Ressa has helped to expose thousands of murders committed as a result of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” in the Philippines. She is now facing politically-motivated charges as authorities attempt to scare her into silence.

Since President Duterte came into power in 2016, thousands of poor and marginalised people have been murdered by police and others in extrajudicial killings. Maria and her team at the media outlet Rappler have been tireless in their efforts to investigate and expose this campaign of violence, intimidation and repression — even risking their own safety and freedom to do so.

In February 2018, Maria was banned by Duterte himself from attending press briefings at the presidential palace. In December, Maria and Rappler were targeted with “tax evasion” charges and had their company registration revoked in a blatant attack on free press in the country. They were later cleared of wrongdoing by the Court of Appeals, but the harassment didn’t end there.

In February 2019, Maria was arrested and detained overnight on “cyber-libel” charges. She has since been released after posting bail but the charges still stand. Maria says this is an “abuse of power” and “weaponization of the law”.

The ongoing harassment and arrest of Maria is a disturbing attempt to silence independent journalism in the Philippines. Please join us in calling for the Department of Justice to drop the charges against Maria and put an end to politically-motivated prosecutions.

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  Our Petition

 

Menardo I. Guevarra, Secretary, Department of Justice

Dear Secretary Guevarra,

I wish to express my dismay at the arrest of Maria Ressa, executive editor of news outlet Rappler, which appears to be part of a broader campaign to silence critics of the Philippine government.

The arrest of Maria Ressa on the evening of 13 February 2019, on what appear to be politically-motivated charges of “cyber-libel”, is the latest attack against her and Rappler. It follows the bringing of “tax evasion” charges in December 2018 against Maria Ressa and her company, Rappler Holdings Corp. These charges are still pending in court. Amnesty International believes these, too, are trumped-up charges that were designed to stifle criticism of the President and his "war on drugs".

I urge your office to act swiftly to uphold and protect the freedom of the press. Specifically, I urge you to drop the charges against Maria Ressa and Rappler, which appear to be solely politically motivated, end the harassment of the media, journalists, and critics of the Duterte administration, and take measures to guarantee their right to freedom of expression and assembly.

Yours Sincerely,

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