OTTAWA – World Press Freedom Canada condemns the decision by Philippines authorities to order the shutdown of the news site, Rappler, which is led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa.
In an order dated June 28, the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed its earlier decision to revoke the certificates of incorporation of Rappler Inc and Rappler Holdings Corporation. Ressa, Rappler founder and chief executive officer, indicated in a news conference that the company will appeal the decision.
Ressa and The Rappler gained international recognition for pursuing coverage of human rights abuses by the Duterte government despite threats and malicious prosecutions.
In naming her as co-winner of the 2021 prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee described Ressa as, “a fearless defender of freedom of expression” who had documented, “how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse.”
She has also been convicted of criminal libel, a prosecution that Human Rights Watch has denounced as a politically motivated attack on freedom of the press.
Ressa was keynote speaker at World Press Freedom Canada’s annual luncheon in May, where she issued a passionate call for the global community to defend media freedom which is increasingly under attack around the world.
“Maria Ressa epitomizes the ideal of a courageous journalist who holds the powerful to account and reports the news without fear or favour,” WPFC President Heather Bakken said. “Journalism is not a crime, and we need leaders in the global community to defend press freedom that is essential to a functioning democracy.”
WPFC calls on the government of Canada and other members of the 52-nation Media Freedom Coalition to act on their global pledge to, “speak out and take action together” to champion media freedom. The coalition must exert diplomatic pressure on the Philippines to end the political persecution of Rappler and Maria Ressa.
World Press Freedom Canada is an Ottawa-based volunteer group that advocates for press freedom at home and abroad.
WPFC President Heather Bakken at firstname.lastname@example.org
WPFC Vice President Shawn McCarthy at email@example.com