Regional trend sees criminal law repeatedly weaponised to target journalists and muzzle free and fair reporting

Standing on the court steps earlier this month after spending a night in detention, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa spoke defiantly to the dozens of gathered cameras. This was, she pointed out, the sixth time she had posted bail in the space of 18 months. “I will pay more bail than convicted criminals,” said Ressa. “I will pay more bail than Imelda Marcos.”

Ressa, the editor and founder of Rappler, a Philippine online news outlet which has been highly critical of president Rodrigo Duterte, has borne the brunt of a targeted crackdown on opposition media in the Philippines, a country which just two years ago was considered something of a beacon of free press in south-east Asia.

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