The endgame of the global liberal alliance’s effort to isolate the Duterte administration has unfolded with the campaign of high-profile lawyer Amal Clooney petitioning other Western nations to impose sanctions against Philippine officials who are involved in the “unjust imprisonment of journalists and shutdowns of the Internet.”
Clooney is one of the big-ticket lawyers provided by the rich supporters of Rappler founder Maria Ressa who is facing in the country charges of violating the anti-dummy law, tax deficiency and cyber libel.
Clooney’s report said governments and multinational institutions such as the European Union should sanction human rights violations against journalists.
The High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, in which Clooney is an official, presented recommendations at Chatham House, or the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. Clooney is also the British Foreign Office’s special envoy on media freedom.
The report recommended that sanctions for violations of international human rights should encompass curtailment of media freedom.
The penalties will be along the line of the “Magnitsky laws” which are in force in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada and which give governments the power to impose visa and travel restrictions and financial sanctions on human rights violators anywhere in the world.
The push included members of the Columbia University, whose alumni are known to be active in the oust Duterte campaign.
“Such a sanction is more effective if it is imposed by multiple countries rather than simply one, but a few countries exercise a lot of power and magnetic appeal with respect to these types of sanctions, and so their effectiveness can be outsized even if they come from just one country,” said Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute Faculty Co-Director Sarah Cleveland.
Clooney’s move follows up on punishments the US Senate approved in a resolution that invoked the Magnitsky Act against officials of President Duterte linked to the detention of suspected drug trafficker Sen. Leila de Lima and alleged extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs.
Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa found out after an inquiry that his US visa was canceled, to which President Rody Duterte promptly retaliated by ordering the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which is a pact for rotational presence of American forces in the country.
Clooney is not even a disinterested party in the writing of the report since it was evident that she was acting on behalf of Ressa, her client, who, in turn, presents herself as being persecuted by the government.
She claimed her arrests and charges are meant to “pound her into silence” for reporting about alleged extrajudicial killings tied to the drug war.
The charges she faces, however, are about the breach of the constitutional provision on media ownership and tax evasion. A businessman also filed a case against Ressa for a false report during the impeachment trial of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said Ressa claims that she is “under attack” by the government when in fact, she is “under investigation” due to her criminal liabilities.
No one, not even members of the press are exempt from the law, he indicated.
Efforts to spin the situations of De Lima and Ressa to fit the overall movement to push Rody out of power are again in full swing, which was likely triggered by the panic reaction of factions in the US rattled by the aggressive independent foreign policy of Rody.