UN Rapporteur asks to intervene in defense of Maria Ressa

Manila, June 5 (EFE).- The United Nations requested Monday that the Philippine Supreme Court intervene in the defense of journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, who appealed the prison sentence imposed on her by the Philippine Justice for cyber defamation.

Through Philippine lawyer Rodel Taton, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Irene Khan asked the Philippine Supreme Court to intervene as “amicus curiae” (friend of the court) to support the defense of Ressa, convicted to more than six years in prison in 2020 for cyber defamation.

An “amicus curiae” is usually invited by a court to provide their point of view on a pending case, but Khan hopes he will be allowed to intervene as an expert in the conviction appeal, in a case in which there has already been a first sentence, as Taton told the ABS-CBN channel.

Citing a 1980 case in which the Philippine Supreme Court allowed an amicus curiae to intervene by motion, the Philippine lawyer said she wanted “this Supreme Court tradition” to take into account the best interests of justice.

Ressa, co-founder of the digital media outlet Rappler, disliked by controversial former President Rodrigo Duterte, was sentenced in 2020 along with reporter Rey Santos for an article published in 2012 in Rappler about corruption in the Philippine judiciary. It mentioned the illegal activities of businessman Wilfredo Keng and his alleged involvement in a murder case.

Taton told ABS-CBN that Khan “presented all possible aspects of the case, including especially the international legal framework based on best practices from around the world, where the Philippines is a party to the UN conventions on the protection of human rights and, of course, from the UN Declaration on Human Rights.”

In July, a Philippine appeals court rejected an appeal filed by Ressa, the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and 2018 Time Magazine Woman of the Year, whose lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Philippine High Court will soon decide whether to ratify or reject the sentence of six years and eight months weighing on Ressa, who also faces four court cases still open by the Philippine Justice against her. EFE


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