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IPI criticises prosecution of Rappler Editor

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Members of the Nigerian National Committee of the International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, have expressed grievances against the harassment and prosecution of Rappler founder and Editor, Maria Ressa, who is a member of IPI Executive Board.

Ressa was arrested on February 13, 2019 for cyber libel based on an investigative report published on May 29, 2012 involving former Chief Justice Renato Corona and a businessman.

The businessman filed a libel complaint with the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI)’s cybercrime division in 2017 based on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which became law four months after the story was published.

It was learnt that, in 2018, the NBI had decided not to pursue the complaint, but the Justice Ministry re-opened the case, applying the law retrospectively, which led to her arrest and she had to spend time in detention before being released on bail.

However, a ruling in a cyber libel prosecution against Ressa will be delivered today at the Manila Regional Trial Court. Although, according to the Chairman of IPI, Nigerian National Committee, Kabiru Yusuf, and a Member of IPI Executive Board (representing Nigeria) in Vienna, Wada Maida, Ressa is an internationally acclaimed journalist, who has been recognised and hailed for her contribution to journalism because of her courage and resolve to uphold press freedom and speak truth to power.

“Ressa’s contribution to journalism has been acknowledged around the world.”

She was one of four journalists named Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ for taking “great risks in pursuit of greater truth.” That same year, Rappler received the IPI-IMS Free Media Pioneer Award.”

They further stated that it was unfortunate that in the Philippines, “the government does not tolerate criticism of its actions. We are dismayed that the government has filed as many as nine cases against Ressa in a blatant attempt to silence her and shut down Rappler.”

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