BY VIOLET GONDA, PRESIDENT, IAWRT

  • Your Excellency, President of the Republic of Tanzania – Honorable Samia Hassan Suluhu,
  • Minister of Information, Communication and Information Technology, Tanzania – Honorable Nape Moses Nnauye, 
  • Minister of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Zanzibar – HonorableTabia Maulid Mwita, 
  • Chapter Head of IAWRT Tanzania – Fatuma Matulanga
  • Incoming IAWRT President Dr. Michelle Ferrier
  • Representatives of International Bodies, 
  • Members of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) here in Tanzania and watching virtually from all over the world, a pleasant morning!

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the opening of IAWRT’s 39th Biennial Conference in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Indeed, a beautiful country.

It is my honour to be here on behalf of IAWRT, together with reputable champions of gender equality and social justice and our partners from the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA).

IAWRT dates back to 1951 and is the oldest global organization for women in media. We are a non-government organization in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council or ECOSOC. I am glad to report that we have more than 400 members in 55 countries across the globe.

Over the years, IAWRT has been responsible for commissioning ground-breaking documentaries; organizing safety training for women journalists; hosting film festivals and setting up and supporting community radio stations.

Our Biennial has always been an occasion to meet, greet, strategise  and strengthen this amazing network of women who believe in the power and potential of IAWRT to be a catalyst of change. A venue where the aspirations of women in media can be realized.

The conference this year focuses on how the interlinked global crises of COVID-19, Conflict and Climate Change are impacting women. Building a body of action-oriented knowledge around these urgent areas will be at the core of this event where senior women journalists, researchers, activists and filmmakers from all continents will share experiences and chart the way forward.

Gender inequality, coupled with the climate crisis, is regarded as one of the greatest challenges of our time. Climate change drives migration and conflict across the world, making women vulnerable to all forms of gender-based violence – child marriage, human trafficking, and sexual violence.

We hope to capacitate and enrich women journalists to be able to perform the critical function of providing more environmental coverage so that governments, civil society, and corporations assume responsibility and take action.

As truth-seekers, journalists are particularly vulnerable in conflicts – and women journalists even more so. Last year, IAWRT took a gargantuan step by creating a Digital Safe House (DSH) for women journalists in the Philippines, a program that is to be expanded to other countries, including Afghanistan and the Eastern European Partnership. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic itself has hit women disproportionately hard, in many countries the pandemic has also been used as a tool to target and impede women journalists.

In this scenario, IAWRT is proud to be championing a series of innovative programs. To name a few:  

  1. My Climate Change Story project – which offers training for journalists and rural women in using cell phones to produce climate change stories that push for change
  2. Continuous monitoring of progress towards gender equality and social justice in and through media by means of research and training projects.
  3. Media Monitoring Project, which involved IAWRT members in the evaluation of public radio and public television programming (560 hours of broadcasting) by 8 chapters (South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Cambodia, India, Moldova, Poland, and USA).
  4. Capacity-building training conducted in 8 countries on 4 continents to assess media programming and to collect, analyze, and interpret evidence about women’s participation and portrayal in the media; a practical, hands-on training project was likewise implemented. 
  5. The Safety Handbook for Women Journalists, which was supported by UNESCO, and has now been translated into several languages. It fulfills a dire need for advice and recommendations on security and safety, especially for women journalists working in war and conflict zones. 

Indeed IAWRT has done a lot to reinforce the participation of women in the media and we commend all of you for being part of this network or for supporting us!

I take this opportunity to thank our Biennial Committee – Bibiana Piene, Archana Kapoor, Sarah Nakibuuka who have worked tirelessly and burnt the midnight oil to make this a memorable event. I would like to thank our host Chapter, IAWRT Tanzania, led by Fatuma Matulanga, Razia Mwawanga, Mama Rose Haji Mwalimu without whose efforts we would not be here. I would especially like to thank the production crew, led by technical director Jola Diones-Mamangun, who have connected us with our members and supporters across the globe and are giving this conference visibility beyond borders.

Without our supporters and funders, the people who believe in us and endorse the values we stand for, we would certainly not have been here. I take this opportunity to thank 

  • The Oslo Metropolitan University’s Journalism and Media International Centre (JMIC),
  • The International Media Support (IMS), 
  • The Institute of Commonwealth Studies’s School of Advanced Study University of London,
  • The Norwegian Union Journalist (NUJ), 
  • The UN Women, and 
  • SMART – Seeking Modern Applications for Real Transform – SMART 

and all the local supporters of this event like:

  • the Zanzibar Broadcasting Corporation

On behalf of the 2020-2022 IAWRT Board, KARIBU – welcome everyone to the 39thIAWRT Biennial Conference! We look forward to listening to and learning from each other over the coming days!

I would now like to welcome our first speaker Minister of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Zanzibar – HonorableTabia Maulid Mwita. We appreciate the strong support and representation from the Tanzanian government. We see this as an endorsement of all that IAWRT Stands for – press freedom and fair and equal space for women in media.

Violet Gonda

OUTGOING IAWRT PRESIDENT (2020-2022)

UNESCO with IAWRT, OnlyOneEarth.Science, Smart Campus Cloud Network, Citizens’ Platform on Climate Change and A Sustainable World, Texas Geosciences and The Small Earth Nepal offer this side event to COP27.

The session will discuss the importance of climate change data and explore how open data models can counter disinformation. The aim is to create a global narrative on the importance of open data for climate change. Open data serves as one of the most important solutions to make the climate change processes more transparent, inclusive, and democratic. 

The session will discuss responses for the following questions:

  • What is the state of climate change and natural resource consumption data in communication processes?
  • What can stakeholders do to enhance citizens’ access to and understanding of big picture for existential climate-consumption data?
  • What can be done to institutionalize good practices and processes for climate-consumption disinformation and enhance citizens’ access to information?

IAWRT will be represented by Pamela Morgan of IAWRT USA Chapter.

Pamela Morgan is the Executive Director of Woman In Media – Newark, a not-for-profit organization which she founded that advocates for and educates the community about issues affecting women globally using film, video and new media as its platform. As a global advocate, her work centers on the implementation of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals focused on women and migration. 

November 2 is the observance of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

UNESCO reports that already this year, over 70 journalists were killed. 9 out of 10 killings go unpunished. 

“Impunity for crimes against journalists affects the core of our freedoms of expression and information. Silencing a journalist has consequences for everyone. We cannot turn a blind eye to impunity. We cannot let their deaths be invisible to society,” UNESCO stressed. 

UNESCO publishes its latest figures on the global impunity rate for journalists’ killings. Although this figure remains unacceptably high, it represents an 9 percentage points reduction in the rate of impunity since 2012 when the United Nations launched its Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists. (Read the report available in multiple languages here.) 

Key figures in the reports:

  • Of the 117 journalists killed in 2020-21, 91 or 78% were killed while off the clock, for example, at home, in their vehicles or in the street but not on specific assignment. Several were killed in front of family members, including their children.
  • The last year have also seen the number of killed women journalists rising from 6-11% of the total, a worrying trend continuing this year.
  • In the 2020-2021 period, 6 journalists were killed while covering protests, riots or demonstrations. This confirms the trend identified in the previous Director-General’s Report which noted a rise in the number of journalists killed in such contexts.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ in its 70th plenary meeting in 2013. The date of the UN day marks the death of Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two French journalists killed while reporting in Mali earlier that year. 

10th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action of the Safety of Journalists

Organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Austria, in cooperation with UNESCO and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, a High-Level Conference will commemorate the 10th year of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and discuss the issue of impunity on November 3-4. Well-known journalists and freedom of expression activists will speak at the event, including Novaya Gazeta Editor-in-Chief and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dmitry Muratov and Colombian Journalist and UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Award Laureate Jineth Bedoya Lima. 

10 years of impact of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists are highlighted:

  • The 10th anniversary is a milestone to Reaffirm, Recommit and Reposition efforts to advance the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, the first concerted effort within the UN to address attacks and impunity of crimes against journalists.
  • 26 UN resolutions on safety of journalists adopted since 2012 by UN General Assembly, UNESCO General Conference and the Human Rights Council.
  • A network of UN Focal Points for the Safety of Journalists within UN agencies, funds and programmes and increased number of reports by the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression.
  • An International Coalition of Civil Society Organizations of Safety of Journalists, a Media Freedom Coalition of 50 countries, a Journalism Safety Research Network.
  • At least 50 National Protection Mechanisms for the safety of journalists established since 2012.
  • More than 24,000 judicial operators from 150 countries and more than 11,500 security forces from 160 countries trained on safety of journalists and freedom of expression. Over 500 lawyers trained in 30 countries and 1,000 cases of legal assistance provided to journalists.

Workshop with Raziah Mwawanga of IAWRT Tanzania takes place with pre-registered participants on Zoom on October 2, 2022 | 8am Eastern Standard Time

Part of the My Climate Change Story: Cellphone Cinema Workshop series

When investigating the impact of climate change one most often reads articles written either by scientists, journalists, or scholars. The voices of those who actually experience the devastating effects of this phenomenon are most often unheard.

In order to find a way to develop women and girls into streams of consciousness — looking at common themes: Themes emerging from these stories will be highlighted and used to initiate and forge networks, conversations, and collaboration to craft appropriate and relevant solutions. One of the goals is to teach women and girls to use their cell phones to tell their own stories.

The workshops will prepare women globally with an intergenerational lens to go into their communities, and use their cell phone to create a 3 to 7-minute vignette that will be uploaded to the IAWRT My Climate Change YouTube channel.

The My Climate Change Story YouTube Channel shall be a laboratory for innovation and solutions that can be shared and emulated globally.

By IAWRT India

Mudri Zhinky is a festival of films from Ukraine made by women filmmakers, held on September 3, 2022 at the India International Centre in New Delhi.

Organized by the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) Chapter India the day-long festival, “Mudri Zhinky: Wise Women” featured 11 short films and a long documentary made by women filmmakers from Ukraine to a packed auditorium.

It was a specially curated package by IAWRT India member Smriti Nevatia. Each film portrayed a different aspect of life in Ukraine.

The event was held in collaboration with Ukrainian Female Film Industry (UFFI).

Three sessions of virtual interaction with the filmmakers were also conducted with the audience members asking questions of the film makers leading to animated discussions on Zoom.

Smriti Nevatia, curator of the festival shared that it was great to have this opportunity to create a package of films by Ukrainian women directors for an Indian audience and hoped that after watching these films viewers would be inspired to hold embattled Ukraine in their thoughts even as they enjoyed these cinematic voices from a country and culture about which they knew so little.

Aaradhana Kohli, Managing Trustee of IAWRT India Chapter who put the festival together was very happy that audiences here in India were able to see for the first time, images other than of war and destruction from Ukraine. Images of everyday life. Of love and loss. Of childish pranks and friendships. Children and families trying to cope with all kinds of ordinary everyday issues. As also existential questions.

The ceremonial lamp was lit by Mrs. Natalia Polikha, the Ukrainian ambassador

to India’s wife, and Ms. Aruna Vasudev, founder of Cinamaya and Osian and also known as the mother of Asian cinema, in a solemn inaugural ceremony in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

The cultural attaché at the embassy of Ukraine in India Ms. Olena Ivanchuk, Katharina Görig of Goethe Foundation India and many other eminent people, students, and film buffs were seen enjoying and watching the films till the very end.

Sticky notes kept in the foyer for audience feedback and comments were a very popular initiative with many a witty comment left on the board.

To close the festival Aaradhana Kohli thanked everyone for coming to the festival and especially to the Programme Division India International Centre for collaborating with IAWRT Chapter India on the festival.

September 16, 2022

The 2022 elections committee has approved all nominations for the IAWRT International Board, and is now completing the e-election setup, and hosting some online meet the candidate sessions. These will be recorded and made accessible.

Voting will be carried out for the position of Treasurer and Board members. Voters have access to information about the non-contested positions and will need to acknowledge it when voting. The new President, Vice President, and Secretary will be declared with the final vote.

Below is a list of candidates and line to the audio or video presentations. Once voting opens this will be available on the voting site, along with extra information about the candidates and a transcript of the presentations.

Inform yourself, and vote September 28 to October 4, 2022.

FOR VOTING:

Board members (3 to be elected)

  1. Kreshma Fakhri (Afghanistan chapter – exiled in Turkey)
  2. PRESENT DESIGNATION/ WORK: Freelance journalist and investigative team leader for the Zan Times (volunteer)

Video link: https://youtu.be/puCzGYWWJ7A

  1. Anjali Monteiro (India chapter)

PRESENT DESIGNATION/ WORK: Filmmaker, teacher and author, retired from academia in 2020

Link to video: https://youtu.be/WWhe6ANndaI

  1. Sarah Nakibuuka (Uganda chapter)

PRESENT DESIGNATION/ WORK: Freelance Journalist and IAWRT member, former IAWRT Secretary and former IAWRT Uganda chapter president

Link to audio: https://on.soundcloud.com/Rd5io

  1. Raziah Quallatein Mwawanga (Tanzania chapter)
  2. PRESENT DESIGNATION WORK: Media trainer and project management consultant

Link to audio: https://youtu.be/Lg3jsyIfg3c

  1. Dr. Rose Reuben Mchomvu (Tanzania chapter)

PRESENT DESIGNATION WORK: Executive Director/ Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA)

Link to audio: https://on.soundcloud.com/yW5gL

Treasurer

  1. Josepine Karani (Kenya chapter)
  2. PRESENT DESIGNATION/ WORK: Seasoned / career broadcast journalist & Chairperson, IAWRT Kenya Chapter

Link to Audio: Link: https://on.soundcloud.com/JnNMD

  1. Rebecca Tadesse Hunde (Ethiopia individual member)

PRESENT DESIGNATION/ WORK: Executive Board chair person of Ethiopian Media Women Association; General Manager, Aster Bettefikir School

Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O85Ce0KSnY&t=2s

NOT FOR VOTING – single candidate – position to be declared

President

Dr. Michelle Ferrier (USA chapter)

Executive director, Media Innovation Collaboratory; founder, Trollbusters, a project of the Media Innovation Collaboratory

Link: https://vimeo.com/743797005/d80bb21f16

Vice President

Jola Mamangun (Philippines chapter)

PRESENT DESIGNATION/WORK: Executive Director, Kodao Productions and present IAWRT International Treasurer

Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsnaejFVFPM

Secretary

Mandira Raut (Nepal chapter)

PRESENT DESIGNATION/ WORK- Founder/C.E.O., UTSAH Learning Center; President, UTSAH Nepal (Volunteer Professional Youth Trainer on Non-formal education; Working as freelance Producer and Director-TV/Radio Production; Present Board Member, IAWRT.

Link to video: https://youtu.be/LcH2Dxdu3go

The workshop takes place with pre-registered participants on Zoom on September 18, 2022 | 8 am Eastern Standard Time

Part of the My Climate Change Story: Cellphone Cinema Workshop

When investigating the impact of climate change, one most often reads articles written either by scientists, journalists, or scholars. The voices of those who actually experience the devastating effects of this phenomenon are most often unheard.

In order to find a way to develop women and girls into streams of consciousness — looking at common themes: Themes emerging from these stories will be highlighted and used to initiate and forge networks, conversations, and collaboration to craft appropriate and relevant solutions. One of the goals is to teach women and girls to use their cell phones to tell their own stories.

The workshops will prepare women globally with an intergenerational lens to go into their communities and use their cell phones to create a 3 to 7-minute vignette that will be uploaded to the IAWRT My Climate Change YouTube channel.

The My Climate Change Story YouTube Channel shall be a laboratory for innovation and solutions that can be shared and emulated globally.

Nina Sabnani, a member of IAWRT India, has devoted two years to developing UNDERSTANDING DESIGN, a combination of free online courses that focus on different aspects of Design Education and Innovation. 

In this course, students get to study the basic concepts of design and understand how the design process works for different aspects such as Society, Sustainability, Industry, Collaboration, Innovation amongst others under seven detailed modules. The course features both eminent and young Indian designers who present case studies and offer insights into the process of design. The course has curated content that include reading material, TED talks and films.

The video production of the course was done by Chandita Mukherjee, and additional scripting inputs were provided by Smriti Nevatia, both of whom are IAWRT India members.

Nina intends to reach out to many learners globally, with engaging and enriching content. There are no prerequisites or qualifications required. Learners of any age, young, working or retired, can join for free from any part of the world.

Available on the government of India’s free e-learning portal, SWAYAM, it is a free online course organised by the Open Design School at IIT Bombay where Nina used to teach. 

There are 9919 students enrolled on the course as of posting.

Course: Understanding Design

Course Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tYxuu_o4Mc&t=1s

To Register for the credit course: https://onlinecourses.swayam2.ac.in/aic19_de04/preview

Enrolment ends on August 1.

The 2022 Women’s International Film Festival is dedicated to the legacy of Hollywood Black Film Festival Creator TANYA KERSEY.

IAWRT USA President Sheila Dallas-Katzman is part of the Screening Committee.

In person screenings:

July 28, 5pm, CRANFORD THEATER, 25 North Avenue, Cranford, NJ

July 29, 5pm, T. THOMAS FORTUNE CULTURAL CENTER, 94 Drs. James Parker Blvd., Red Bank, NJ

July 30, 12pm, NEWARK MUSEUM OF ART, 49 Washington St., Newark, NJ

August 4, 5pm, ODR STUDIOS, 89 Madison St., Newark, NJ

Virtual screenings:

August 5 – Register: https://bit.ly/3Omv1Lg

August 6

Film programme:

La Receta de la Abuela – Daniela Miranda Perez, Director

The story of Ofelia Moreno, an activist who dedicated 40 years of her life to seeking Truth and Justice for her relatives executed by the Chilean civic-military dictatorship. 11:20 min. – Chile

Adiyah Grace – Brenda Williams, Director Dr. Parks, an African American navigates the discussion of Black Lives Matter discussed in the workplace. 16:58 min. – USA

Under Tension – Mireille Fiévet, Director Keeping the family under the yoke and authority of the father is more and more difficult and dangerous for the balance of the family. 20 min. – France

Precious Cargo: Return to Viet Nam – Janet Paxton Gardner, Director This story explores the complex history of the 1975 Operation Babylift. It was the last chapter of a war that tore this country apart. 28:00 min. – USA/VN

Daughter of A Lost Bird – Brooke Pepion Swaney, Director By sharing a deeply personal experience of inherited cultural trauma, the film opens the door to broader and more complicated conversations about the erasure of Native culture and questions of identity surrounding adoption. 66 min. – USA

A Wake for Mary Murphy – Barrie Dowdall, Director After the sudden death of her mother Nora is left to sort through their unresolved conflicts. During the wake, she is haunted by the ghost of her mother. 6 min. – Ireland

Well Actually – Vlada Knowlton, Director A Black woman software engineer deals with workplace microaggressions from her male colleagues. 9:27 min. – United States

A Stranger at the Funeral – Ana Maria Estrada Cardenas, Director Roberto’s family is surprised by the mystery of the man at the funeral. 15 min. – Peru

Coded Bias – Shalini Kantayya, Director When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that many facial recognition technologies misclassify women and darker-skinned faces, she is compelled to investigate further and start the Algorithmic Justice League. 90 min. – US/UK/China/South Africa

Under The Same Sky – Alison Chace, Director IWomen around the globe share wisdom in a global pandemic. 14:00 – min. – US/Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Modern Greek, Mongolian, Panjabi

Eureka – MiidaChu, Director A young indentured Chinese prostitute must overcome her toxic dependency on the brothel madam on the eve of the 1885 anti-Chinese riot in Eureka, California. 14:50 min. – United States

Daughters of the Sea – Laura Esteban, Director Compelling testimonies of gender discrimination are brought to the table, highlighting the bravery of the women who work in the Atlantic Ocen, and the long road that still lies ahead to achieve gender equality in our contemporary society. 17:20 min. – Spain

Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power – Abby Ginzbert, Director An intimate and inspiring portrait or Representative Barbara Lee, a champion of civil rights and a steadfast voice for human rights, peace, and economic and racial justice in the U.S. Congress. 83 min. – United States

Trailer for Thalidomide in the USA – C. Jean Grover, Director This trailer previews the documentary which will disclose first-ever seen footage, by and about United States thalidomide survivors, chronicling their decades-long journey to find the truth about distri- bution of the drug in the US, and its devastating effects. 2:28 min – United States

Maid of Honor – Jessica McGaugh, Director As the maid of honor for her best friend’s wedding, Tasha, a steadfast tomboy, has to get fitted for a dress. 6 min. – United States

boju weyín – Bimpe’ Fageyinbo, Director American poet, Bimpé Fageyinbo explores love, heartbreak and grief in this visual poetic memoir featuring selected poems from her 2010 book “so maybe that’s the bee’s weakness.” 26 min. – US

Guarantee of Life – Veronica Couto and Oscar Vazquez, Directors Abortion in the Dominican Republic is totally prohibited and crimi- nalized by law. Guarantee of life collects testimonies from victims of this legislation to support the feminist movement in its struggle to achieve basic rights for women. 43:39 min. – Spain/Dominican Republic

Aya’s Dream – Aleksandra Orbeck, Katalin Hanappi, Directors A young Ju/ hoansi San girl struggles to navigate the society she finds herself in. We follow her spiritual and dreamlike journey of connecting to her ancestors, reconnecting to the identity of her people and rediscovering the essence of life. 13:00 min. – Namibia

Cross – Hyunjin Lee, Director A Korean immigrant mom in the US goes through a journey against her religious faith to embrace her only son who is discovering his sexual orientation. 15:41 min. – United States

Lost From Sight – Olivier vandersleyen, Director Marie Gaillet, a Belgian artist, has been a painter for 70 years and has been severely handicapped for 13 years by AMD. 93 years old, she still continues to give painting classes. 23:41 min. – Belgium

The Racial Politics of Abortion: A Short Film by Dawn Porter – Acclaimed filmmaker Dawn Porter ‘s intimate and personal view of the often-overlooked stories of Black women who seek out reproductive services in America. This documentary gives a snapshot into the lives of Black healthcare providers, mothers and pro-choice and pro-life activists and shows how laws that restrict abortion access impact Black women and their families. 26:10 min – USA

Four Hours a Day – Ayelet Dekel, Director Babies who, according to the kibbutz ideology, were taken from their mothers and raised and lived in children home. Every mother was allowed to hold her child for only “Four Hours a Day.” The mental scars created and left in the hearts of mothers and their children are exposed for the first time in this Documentary . 55:00 min. – Israe

The Dress – Marie Karkashadze, Director A young women under house arrest decides to change her ap- pearance drastically for the last chance and a “perfect date” with someone she loves the most. 8:55 min. – United States

Demolition: Staging A Protest – Grace Uther, Director Powerhouse femme performers Polytoxic are taking down the patri- archy with spectacular force … and everyone is invited to the show. 24:35 min. – Australia

Unseen: How We’re Failing as Parent Caregivers & Why It Matters – Amanda Dyer, Tom Dyer, Directors Through the power of unfiltered, compelling human stories, Unseen cultivates compassion and tangible support for the caregivers in our communities. 46:28 min. – United States

String of Stories – Indrani Nayar-Gall, Director Traumatic life experiences of three women who have been victims of the Devadasi tradition (religious servitude). 1:11:29 – United States/Canada/India

For more information: https://wim-n.com/2022-2/

Flyer: https://wim-n.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Womens-International-Film-Festival-2022-program.pdf

The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) expresses alarm at the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the conviction of Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa and former Rappler researcher Rey Santos Jr on trumped-up charges of cyber libel.

Their conviction in 2020 stemmed from a cyber libel case on a Rappler article published on May 29, 2012, almost five months before the cybercrime law was enacted on October 3. The Department of Justice under then-president Rodrigo Duterte, however, ruled that the story had been updated and remained posted as of Feb. 14, 2014, and approved the filing of charges in 2019.

The court also lengthened the jail time to up to six years, eight months and 20 days or an additional eight months in denying Ressa’s appeal.

After the court decision, Ressa and Rappler experienced an “info ops/mob,” as part of the continuing online hate she has received following Rappler’s critical reporting of the former president’s war on drugs and Duterte openly attacking Ressa and Rappler.

The court’s decision comes over a week after the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission issued a revocation order against Rappler, one of the many legal cases and harassment Rappler endured during the term of Duterte. Both disturbing decisions were released between Duterte’s last day in office and the first few days of the new president, son of dictator, and press freedom killer Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The international media watchdog group, Reporters without Borders, has called Duterte a press freedom “predator.”

The recent developments in Ressa and Rappler’s cases add to growing concerns over press freedom in the Philippines.

Marcos Jr.’s win has raised concerns about the future of media in the country, where journalists were barred from interviewing or covering or roughhoused during his campaign sorties. Marcos Jr. refused to join election debates and only allowed interviews from selected media houses to answer selected questions.

Before the term of Duterte’s appointed officials ended with him, the former National Security Adviser ordered the blocking of independent media websites Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly. (Read related statement from IAWRT Philippines here:https://www.facebook.com/Iawrtphil/posts/5463518523707291)

Ressa rightly said that the danger that her and Rappler’s experiences pose if you’re a Filipino is that “this could happen to you, too.” And this could happen anywhere in the world where people keep silent as institutions are being used to silence journalists.

IAWRT will continue to support Maria Ressa, Rappler, journalists, and media outfits that continue to pursue the truth but are persecuted for it.