The International Press Institute (IPI) has urged the government of the Philippines to remove travel restrictions slammed on Maria Ressa, the CEO of news site Rappler.
Thirteen laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2021, including Ressa.
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Ressa, IPI Executive Board member, is being prevented by the Philippine Government from travelling to Norway to accept her Nobel Peace Prize in person, scheduled to hold in December 10.
She has been engulfed in legal battles in recent years because of her news outlet is critical of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.
The IPI Executive Board, in a statement yesterday, urged the Philippines authorities to immediately lift any such restrictions as well as drop all open court cases against Ressa, who had been targeted by the state for her critical reporting
The statement was jointly signed by members of the global Executive Board of the IPI, editors and journalists from 22 countries.
The IPI said it viewed the charges against Ressa as targeted harassment intended as retaliation against Ressa and her news outlet, Rappler, for their critical reporting.
“She has shown outstanding courage in refusing to back down from her commitment to independent journalism, despite the tremendous pressure placed on her, including vicious online attacks and smear campaigns.
“We reject the argument brought by the Philippine government that Maria Ressa constitutes a “flight risk”.
“Despite the injustice of the charges levelled against her, she has shown respect for the judicial process, repeatedly returning to the Philippines from travels abroad.”
The IPI said there was no legitimate reason to prevent her from accepting this award, which the Philippine government itself has said “is given to individuals who have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind”.
The travel ban against Maria Ressa was based on her June 2020 conviction on “cyber libel” charges that has left her facing up to six years in prison.
The statement quoted IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi as saying that: “Maria Ressa is not a criminal, but an outstanding journalist who is globally respected for her courage to speak truth to power.”
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