Rodrigo Duterte's persecution of Maria Ressa is dangerous

16 June 2020

Statement from Daphne’s family

Over the years, we watched the former Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat and his cronies pursue increasingly deranged attacks on Daphne. These included online abuse and harassment campaigns, vexatious tax investigations, false criminal charges that were thrown out of court, and civil and criminal libel suits.

Daphne died with five criminal libel charges and 43 civil libel suits pending against her.

This targeted harassment, chillingly similar to that perpetrated against Maria Ressa, created the conditions for Daphne’s murder.

The government of the Philippines is creating the possibility of a violent attack against Maria and other journalists.

Its targeted legal harassment of Maria identifies her to Duterte’s officials and supporters as an enemy, implicitly granting them permission for further attacks.

Media institutions all over the world recognise this and are already unanimous in their support of Maria. It is beyond time for the government of the Philippines to drop all charges against Maria and her colleagues. If it fails to do so, it risks an escalation towards violence.