Philippines court allows Nobel laureate Maria Ressa to go to Norway

The Philippine journalist Maria Ressa will be allowed to travel overseas so she can accept her Nobel peace prize in person after a court gave her permission to leave the country to visit Norway this month.

Ressa, who is subject to travel restrictions because of the legal cases she faces in the Philippines, shared the prize with the Russian investigative journalist Dmitry Muratov, amid growing concerns over curbs on free speech worldwide.

The award is the first Nobel peace prize for journalists since the German Carl von Ossietzky won it in 1935 for revealing his country’s secret postwar rearmament programme.

In its ruling on Friday, the Philippine court of appeals granted Ressa’s request to travel to receive the award on 10 dicembre, noting that she was not a flight risk.

The Norwegian Nobel committee has decided this year’s award ceremony will be an in-person event taking place in Oslo city hall.

Ressa’s news site, Rappler, has had its licence suspended and she is embroiled in various legal cases. Supporters say she is being targeted because of her scrutiny of government policies, including a deadly war on drugs launched by the president, Rodrigo Duterte.

The journalist, who is free on bail as she appeals against a six-year prison sentence handed down last year for a libel conviction, faces five tax evasion charges and a corporate case with the regulator.

The Philippines’ ranking in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index dropped two notches to 138 of 180 Paesi, and the Committee to Protect Journalists ranks the Philippines seventh in its global impunity index, which tracks deaths of media members whose killers go free.

The government denies hounding media and says any problems organisations face are legal, not political. It says it believes in free speech.

Di lunedi, the UN urged the Philippines to allow Ressa to travel to Norway to accept the award.

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