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Nonoy Espina Was at Forefront of Struggle Against Attacks on the Media

The Philippines lost one of its foremost press freedom fighters Wednesday night. Jose Jaime Espina, popularly known as “Nonoy,” died from liver cancer just days after recovering from Covid-19, his family said. He was 59. A longtime journalist based…
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines chairman Nonoy Espina speaks to other journalists and activists as they gather to hold a vigil on the eve of the promulgation of the Maguindanao massacre trial on December 18, 2019 in Manila, Philippines.
News

Journalists and Online Commentators Face Persecution for Critical Reporting

Celebrating World Press Freedom Day in Rwanda may well require journalists, activists, and diplomats to toe the line of the government’s ever-growing list of forbidden topics. In a country where the president coolly gives speeches gloating about the…
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame speaks during the state funeral of Kenya’s former president, Daniel arap Moi, at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya, February 11, 2020.
News

President Says He’ll Block ABS-CBN Even with New Franchise

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared this week that he would not recognize any new license granted by Congress to ABS-CBN, the major television network that the government forced off the air in July 2020. Duterte repeated his claim – already…
Employees light candles outside the headquarters of broadcast network ABS-CBN corp. on May 5, 2020, after the network was ordered to halt operations after its congressional franchise expired, in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines.
News

Upsurge in Attacks on Activists, Community Leaders, Rights Defenders

(Manila, January 13, 2021) – The Philippine government’s “drug war” killings intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, as did unnecessary arrests during lockdowns, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2021. Attacks by the police,…
Detainees sleep in an open basketball court inside the Quezon City Jail in Quezon City, Philippines on July 24, 2020. 
News

‘Drug War’ Deaths Rise Dramatically as Country Reels from Covid-19

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte administration’s bloody “war on drugs” worsened during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to the government’s own statistics. Police killed 50 percent more people between April to July 2020 than they did in the…
Police officers secure the road leading to the House of Representatives where President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 27, 2020 in Metro Manila, Philippines.
News

Reinstating Capital Punishment Risks International Condemnation, Sanctions

The plummeting human rights situation in the Philippines got even worse this week as the government began considering bills to reinstate the death penalty. The move by the House Committee on Justice came a week after President Rodrigo Duterte used his…
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a late night live broadcast in Malacanang, Manila, Philippines, April 3, 2020.
News

Police to Go House-to-House, Rely on Neighbor Reporting

The Philippine government announced this week that police will conduct house-to-house searches for people who might have been infected with the novel coronavirus and then forcibly relocate them to government-run isolation facilities. The authorities…
A police officer checks the temperatures of passengers inside a jeepney at a checkpoint in Manila, Philippines, March 16, 2020. 
News
As a former journalist in the Philippines, I was deeply angered and saddened when Maria Ressa, the founder of the crusading journalism outlet Rappler, and Reynaldo Santos Jr., a former writer there, were sentenced on Monday to up to six years in…
Maria Ressa arrives at court in Manila, June 15, 2020.
News

Manila Court Convicts Duterte Critic Maria Ressa for Libel

(Manila) – The conviction of a prominent journalist for criminal libel is a devastating blow to media freedom in the Philippines, Human Rights Watch said today. On June 15, 2020, a Manila court issued a guilty verdict for Maria Ressa, the founder and…
Maria Ressa arrives at court in Manila, June 15, 2020.
News

Duterte Should Rescind ABS-CBN Shutdown; Congress Should Renew License

(Manila) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte should rescind an order to shut down ABS-CBN, the country’s largest broadcast television and radio network, Human Rights Watch said today. The House of Representatives, whose inaction on…
Employees light candles outside the headquarters of broadcast network ABS-CBN corp. on May 5, 2020, after the network was ordered to halt operations after its congressional franchise expired, in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines.
News

Reduce Prisoner Populations to Address Severe Health Concerns

(Manila) – The Philippine government has not fully reported prison deaths, raising concerns that Covid-19 is spreading more quickly and widely in the country’s detention facilities, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should investigate…
Inmates sitting in an overcrowded jail in Manila, Philippines, February 2019.
News

Persistently Press Abusive Leaders to End Violations

Authoritarian-leaning countries in southeast Asia are using the Covid-19 pandemic as a pretext to further repress human rights, which the Australian government cannot afford to ignore. In Cambodia, a new state of emergency law will further…
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen gestures during a speech on the current state of a new virus from China in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020.
News

End Media Crackdown, Mass Arbitrary Arrests

(Nairobi) – Rwandan police have arbitrarily arrested scores of people since directives to prevent the spread of Covid-19 came into force on March 22, 2020. The authorities have accused people of violating the measures and at times detained people…
A Rwandan police officer checks the temperature of a motorist as he enforces a lockdown to stem the Covid-19 outbreak in Kigali, Rwanda, on April 15, 2020.
News

Release Low-Level Offenders; Prioritize Older and Ill Prisoners

(Manila) – Philippine authorities, to stem the COVID-19 outbreak, should release from the country’s overcrowded jails and prisons inmates who have been detained or convicted for low-level and non-violent offenses, Human Rights Watch said today.…
Inmates in the North Cotabato District Jail in Kidapawan City, Philippines, January 2017.  (c) 2017 AP Photo
News

Misuse of COVID-19 Law as Dozens Face Probes, Backlash

The Philippine government is cracking down on journalists and social media users critical of the government’s COVID-19 response, threatening media freedom and the rights to free expression and access to information.    On March 24,…
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a late night live broadcast in Malacanang, Manila, Philippines, April 3, 2020.
News

Young People Locked in Dog Cages, Coffins, Stripped Naked

Philippine authorities have subjected children to absurdly abusive treatment for violating curfew and quarantines rules imposed to limit exposure to COVID-19. Police and local officials in several parts of the country have mistreated…
A screenshot of an officer with five youths locked inside a dog cage after breaking curfew in Laguna province, the Philippines on March 20, 2020. © 2020 Facebook
News

COVID-19 Response Should Respect Detainee Rights

(Manila) – Philippine authorities should respect the basic rights of people detained for violating the government’s COVID-19 regulations, Human Rights Watch said today. Police and local officials have confined those arrested to dog cages and forced…
A screenshot of an officer with five youths locked inside a dog cage after breaking curfew in Laguna province, the Philippines on March 20, 2020. © 2020 Facebook
News

Case Against ABS-CBN Attacks Media Freedom

(Manila) – The Philippine Congress should reject President Rodrigo Duterte’s apparent misuse of regulatory powers against the country’s largest broadcast network, Human Rights Watch said today. On February 10, 2020, the Office of the Solicitor…
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
News

Upsurge in Attacks on Activists, Environmentalists

(Manila) – The Philippine government’s murderous “war on drugs” remained the Philippines’ gravest human rights concern in 2019, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2020. Security forces were also implicated in often deadly…
Veiled protesters, mostly relatives of victims of alleged extra-judicial killings, display placards during a protest outside the Philippine military and police camps