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IBAHRI allowed a role in Philippines case

24 Apr 2024 / human rights Print

IBAHRI allowed a role in Philippines case

The Supreme Court of the Philippines has accepted an amicus curiae motion filed by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) in July 2023 in an appeal by 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Maria Ressa.

The IBAHRI has welcomed the granting of the amicus curiae (friend of the court), a status that allows the organisation to assist a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case.

In June 2020, journalist Ressa was convicted of cyber-libel under Republic Act No 10175 by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, a decision that was upheld by the Philippines Court of Appeal in July 2022.

Later that year, Ressa (small picture) filed an appeal before the Supreme Court and awaits an appeal judgment.

‘Serious implications’

The IBAHRI says that it has been closely following the case, adding that it has “serious implications” for media freedom nationally and internationally.

The Supreme Court has allowed the organisation to submit a brief containing independent expert reports, prepared by three duly appointed jurists.

One of the independent reports was written by US libel-law expert Theodore Boutrous, who offers an assessment of how the criminal charges levied against Ressa – who is a dual Filipino and American citizen – are dramatically inconsistent with the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which bears substantial similarities to article III, section 4 of the Philippine Constitution.

Baroness Helena Kennedy (IBAHRI director) stated: “The role of the media is currently under threat globally, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Maria Ressa’s case will result in serious ramifications for free expression and media freedom.

“These are the essential pillars of any democracy, and the IBAHRI has worked tirelessly to challenge the law where it restricts the vital work of journalists unduly.”

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland