People

Amal Clooney will defend “courageous” Philippines journalist Maria Ressa

Posted by
Meena Alexander
Published
Amal Clooney

Amal Clooney is one of the world’s most respected human rights lawyers and a staunch feminist, so who better to represent a woman being silenced by a violent political tyrant?     

Amal Clooney has announced that she will take on the case of Maria Ressa, a journalist facing charges over her reporting of human rights abuses in the Philippines.

The British-Lebanese human rights lawyer has worked on some of the most critical cases in the world, including the recognition of the Armenian genocide and the representation of Nobel Peace Prize winner and former trafficked sex slave, Nadia Murad.

You may also like

Amal Clooney’s powerful rallying cry for women everywhere

Now, she will lead the legal team representing Ressa, the editor of the news site Rappler who was named a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2018 for taking “great risks in pursuit of greater truth” through her candid and critical reporting.

One of the most respected journalists in southeast Asia, Ressa caught the attention of the country’s leader Rodrigo Duterte when she began writing about his so-called war on drugs – a campaign recently dubbed a “large-scale murdering enterprise” by the human rights organisation Amnesty. 

Maria Ressa, editor of Rappler
Maria Ressa, the editor of Rappler, is facing criminal charges in the Philippines

Thousands of people have been killed since 2016, when President Duterte pledged to wipe out drug abuse in the Philippines and gave police virtual impunity to arrest and shoot anyone suspected of being a dealer or an addict.

Duterte has also attempted to control his media image, with an army of online trolls pushing out pro-government stories and a crackdown on sites like Ressa’s Rappler, which she set up with three fellow female journalists in 2012.

You may also like

What’s in a flag? Meet the women using flags to protest for human rights all over the world

Thanks to her major role in exposing the extent of Duterte’s brutality, Ressa has been arrested and released on bail several times over the past year and is now facing charges relating to alleged tax evasion and ‘cyber-libel’.

“Maria Ressa is a courageous journalist who is being persecuted for reporting the news and standing up to human rights abuses,” Clooney said in a statement from her chambers in London’s Doughty Street. “We will pursue all available legal remedies to vindicate her rights and defend press freedom and the rule of law in the Philippines.”

Sign up for our essential edit of what to buy, see, read and do, and also receive our 11-page Ultimate Guide To Making Your Home Feel Bigger.

Last year, Clooney defended two journalists who were imprisoned in Myanmar after reporting on the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, and she was appointed as the British special envoy on media freedom this April.

Clooney’s representation of Maria Ressa will help keep a spotlight on the violence of Duterte’s drug war and his restrictions on press freedom – if anyone’s well-equipped to take on tyranny, it’s her.

Images: Getty

Topics

Share this article

Author

Meena Alexander

Meena Alexander is Stylist’s sub-editor. She prides herself on her ability to spell big words, her vinyl collection and her photographic memory for every outfit Rihanna has ever worn.

Recommended by Meena Alexander

People

How Amal Clooney and the Royal Family are teaming up to celebrate young women

Do you make a contribution to your community? You could be in the running to win this new award

Posted by
Hannah-Rose Yee
Published
People

Amal and George Clooney have taken in an Iraqi refugee

"When I met him, I remember being so struck by his courage but also just his amazing spirit"

Posted by
Emily Reynolds
Published
People

Twitter loves this empowering message from Amal Clooney's husband, George

"He gets it!"

Posted by
Anna Brech
Published