Journalists urge Supreme Court to reconsider allowing live broadcast of Ampatuan massacre trial

The IFJ supports the demands made by journalists and

media organisations in the Philippines that the Supreme Court (SC) reverse

its October 23 decision which disallows the live broadcast of the Ampatuan

Massacre trial.

 

On

December 6, the Public Interest Law Center filed a petition on behalf of

organisations including IFJ affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the

Philippines (NUJP), ABS-CBN, BusinessWorld, Center for Media Freedom and

Responsibility (CMFR), GMA-7, Manila Times, Philippine National Police Press

Corps and TV5, which seeks to compel the Court to reconsider the resolution disallowing

broadcast of the trial - completely overturning the June 2011 decision which had

allowed for partial coverage. 

 

In a motion

filed by Andal Amaptuan Jr, he argued the right of the accused should be

considered above the public right to know.  The petitioners argued, that "the

right of an accused to fair trial is not incompatible to right to free

press", and widespread publicity through live media coverage therefore

does not in itself violate the right of the accused to a fair trial. They have

called for the SC to sit down with media groups and journalists to draft

guidelines for live media coverage as had been done following the partial

allowance of coverage in June 2011. 

 

Through

the new resolution, the SC has directed that the proceedings be filmed using

closed-circuit television (CCTV) and transmitted real-time to viewing areas in

courts nearest to families of the massacre victims. The petitioners have called

this an “unsatisfactory compromise” that “delimits the viewing possibilities to

those who have the time and opportunity to go to the designated courts where

CCTVs have been placed", and could in turn disenfranchise the public.

 

Media

organizations have been pushing for live coverage of the case proceedings of

the Maguindanao Massacre, where 32 of the 58 victims are journalists and media

workers.

 

The IFJ calls for the decision to be revised and allow for the

broadcast of the trial to help ensure transparency in the proceedings. “Three

years after the worst atrocity ever committed against media workers, the

victims’ families, colleagues and defenders of press freedom must have their

rights and the right of the public to view the trial upheld.” IFJ

Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0918

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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