CPJ, others submit amicus brief in Ressa case

Maria Ressa speaks at Rappler’s office in Pasig, Philippines in July 2022. (Photo: AFP/Jam Sta Rosa)

In an effort to deter the legal persecution of trailblazing journalist and Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa and her former colleague Reynaldo Santos, and to protect the public’s right to be informed, three leading civil society organizations, have submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

The brief was filed on June 13 by the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in partnership with Debevoise and Plimpton LLP. It argues that the criminal convictions of Ressa and Santos for “cyber libel” not only breach the international obligations of the Philippines but betray a press freedom legacy the court has reaffirmed for more than a century.

Ressa, her colleagues, and the online news outlet Rappler have faced a sustained campaign of legal persecution and online violence, with 23 individual cases opened by the government against them since 2018. Ressa and Santos face close to seven years in prison if their convictions for cyber libel, which are currently in the last stage of appeals before the Philippine Supreme Court, are upheld. 

Forced to flee: Exiled journalists remain unsafe
Begum TV is a channel led by Afghan journalists in exile in France. (Photo: AFP/ Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt)

Threats, repression, conflict, and unrest: across the world, these and other factors are pushing journalists into exile in record numbers. In a striking development, exiled or soon-to-be exiled journalists now make up more than half of the people CPJ assists. Between January and June 2024, CPJ provided financial support to 158 journalists; 101, or about 64% of these people had fled their home countries or were in the process of fleeing.

In a new CPJ special report, Emergencies Director Lucy Westcott explains who so many journalists remain insecure in exile.

More in the report:
-Feature: The exodus of Ecuador’s press
CPJ’s recommendations on emergency visas
CPJ emergency assistance information


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Journalists Attacked

Myat Thu Tan

MURDERED

Myat Thu Tan, a contributor to the local news website Western News and correspondent for several independent Myanmar news outlets, was shot and killed on January 31, 2024, while in military custody in Mrauk-U in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State.

He was arrested on September 22, 2022, and held in pre-trial detention under a broad provision of the penal code that criminalizes incitement and the dissemination of false news for critical posts he made on his Facebook page. Myat Thu Tan had not been tried or convicted at the time of his death.

The journalist’s body was found buried in a bomb shelter, with the bodies of six other political detainees, and showed signs of torture.

Myanmar’s military junta has cracked down on journalists and media outlets since seizing power in a February 2021 coup.

In at least 8 out of 10 cases, the murderers of journalists go free. CPJ is waging a global campaign against impunity.

The Committee to Protect Journalists promotes press freedom worldwide.

We defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.

journalists killed in 2024 (motive confirmed)
imprisoned in 2023
missing globally