United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression Irene Khan on Monday appealed to the Supreme Court (SC) to allow her to intervene as “amicus curiae” and to admit her amicus brief in the appeal of Rappler CEO and Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa on her conviction for cyberlibel by the Manila regional trial court.
In a motion for leave of court, Dean Rodel Taton of the Graduate School of Law San Sebastian College Recoletos-Manila, who is serving as Khan’s attorney-in-fact, stressed that while an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” is usually invited by the court to provide insights to a case, Khan hopes to be allowed by the magistrates to intervene as an expert in Ressa’s case.
“She just wanted to be allowed to appear as an amicus curiae and for her submission to be admitted by the court. She is seeking the court’s permission for this purpose,” Taton said, in an interview with reporters after he filed the motion.
Khan’s briefer said as an expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council she has the mandate and task to gather relevant information in relation to alleged violations of right to freedom of opinion and expression.
According to her, she also has the authority and power to provide recommendations and suggestions to promote and protect the right to freedom of expression.
The briefer said that the UN rapporteur is concerned that domestic law “fails to adequately protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
Manila is among the signatories to the said international covenant.
“In particular, the Cybercrime Prevention Act raises serious concerns that it limits the ability of journalists to expose, document and address issues of important public interest, thereby violating the right to receive and impart information,” Khan said, referring to the cybercrime prevention act passed in 2012.
It can be recalled that Ressa and former Rappler staff Reynaldo Santos Jr.was convicted on June 15, 2020 by the Manila Regional Trial Court on the cyber libel case filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng.
The case stemmed from an article written by Santos claiming that Keng allegedly lent his sports utility vehicle to then Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Apart from this, the story also cited an intelligence report that said Keng had been under surveillance by the National Security Council for alleged involvement in human trafficking and drug smuggling.
Keng has denied all the allegations.
Ressa and Santos had appealed their conviction before the SC after they were turned down by the Court of Appeals.