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Closing ABS-CBN Would Degrade Philippines Press Freedom

President Rodrigo Duterte ramped up his attack on the Philippine media, vowing to block the renewal of ABS-CBN, the country’s largest and most influential broadcast network. “Your franchise will end next year,” the president said on Tuesday. “If…
Journalists and supporters, wearing black, display their messages during a protest against the recent Securities and Exchange Commission's revocation of the registration of Rappler, an online news outfit, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, northeast of Manila, Philip
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Officials Shut Down Student News Website Over Story ‘Promoting Homosexuality’

A student news website in Indonesia that published a story about a woman expressing her love for another young woman was ordered by university officials to shut down its entire news operation after the story went viral. North Sumatra University (…
The newsroom of student website Suara USU at the North Sumatra University in Medan, which is facing closure. University President Runtung Sitepu ordered the newsroom to be shut down and the office to be vacated in 48 hours on March 27, 2019 after the webs
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Encourages Users to Report People Suspected of ‘Heresy’

Following your own religious beliefs shouldn’t be a crime, but in Indonesia, new technologies are helping authorities identify and potentially prosecute religious minorities who follow “deviant teachings.” On November 22,…
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Stronger Official Action Needed to Combat Asia-Pacific’s Fastest Growing HIV Epidemic

The Philippine Senate passed a bill on Monday that would amend the country’s 20-year-old AIDS law, and which promises to improve the government’s response to the HIV epidemic, the fastest-growing in the Asia-Pacific region. The draft…
Students receive free condoms at an event organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Metro Manila, July 11, 2014.
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Legal Restrictions, Intimidation Seek to Suppress Criticism

Filipino journalists will spend World Press Freedom Day on May 3 under government attack. New draft regulations issued by the Philippine House of Representatives would allow Congress to ban reporters who “besmirch” the reputation of lawmakers from…
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte addresses the resident Filipino community at a convention hall in Singapore, April 28, 2018. REUTERS/Feline Lim
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Reversing Government Policy Failures on HIV/AIDS

The new Philippines country director of the United Nations program on HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS, is advocating condom use and comprehensive sexuality education as key planks in the agency’s strategy to address the country’s worsening…
New UNAIDS country director Dr. Louie Ocampo (in red and white shirt) joins HIV advocates in the Philippines.
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House Speaker Using Defamation Laws to Silence Critics

Dyann Kemala Arrizzqi’s Instagram feed is filled with her travel photos, demonstrations of her prowess at traditional Balinese dance poses, and wry memes. But now the content of her Instagram feed may get her sent to an Indonesian…
The speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto talks to reporters in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 18, 2017.
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Visit Shines Light on Government Policy Failures

The United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health did something remarkable last week: he traveled to the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. Dainius Puras’ two-day trip to Papua, part of a two-week official visit, was notable…
A woman who is infected with HIV prepares her medicines in a shelter house in Jayapura of the Indonesia Papua province November 27, 2008.
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But Senate Bill Needs Strong Language Promoting Condom Use

Philippine lawmakers finally took action this week to improve the government’s response to the country’s HIV epidemic, filing a draft law to replace the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998.Senate Bill 1390, if enacted, aims to improve…
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How Everyone Can Address Such Threats, Help Protect Activists

Over the past week, two human rights colleagues of mine received rape and death threats over social media. One, who works with refugees, was sent a Facebook message saying, “I am gonna rape you to death fuckin darkies lover fucking traitor!” The other,…
Screengrabs of social media threats sent to activists
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Setback for Efforts to Curb Fast-Growing HIV Epidemic

The Philippine Department of Education this week rejected a proposal to distribute condoms in public high schools. The proposal, made by the Department of Health, was an overdue response to the country’s worsening human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)…
Students receive free condoms at an event organized by the United Nations Population Fund in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, July 11, 2014.
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Improved Condom Access Essential to Address HIV Epidemic

The Philippine government has restored funding to service Filipinos’ reproductive health needs, most significantly for the estimated 13.4 million women who rely on government-supplied contraceptive products. The long-overdue move…
An NGO health worker holds contraceptive pills during a family planning session with housewives availing free pills in Tondo, Manila August 6, 2012.
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Says Hostile to Privacy, Democratic Freedoms

This week, the European Union’s top court once again found that blanket data retention mandates are hostile to privacy and democratic freedoms, and incompatible with EU law. Such mandates require service providers to store data on all of the provider’s…
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The Philippine government has taken a serious step backward in its obligation to protect maternal health, reduce infant mortality, and prevent the spread of HIV. Last week, the Philippine Congress eliminated funding in the 2016…
An NGO health worker holds contraceptive pills during a family planning session with housewives availing free pills in Tondo, Manila August 6, 2012.
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Philippine Senator Vicente Sotto III may have his way in scuttling a study on needle exchange, which is designed to reverse the rise of HIV infection among people who inject drugs. Giving clean needles to intravenous drug users, he argued in the Senate,…
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Today Julian Assange, the Wikileaks publisher, begins his third year confined in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. He fled there, receiving political asylum, when Sweden sought his extradition to answer sexual assault allegations. Although both Assange…