Amnesty Intl: Cybercrime Law sets stage for more rights violations
Instead of protecting the rights of people, the Anti-Cybercrime law threatens to set the stage for more rights violations, the US chapter of Amnesty International USA said.
Amnesty International deputy Asia director Isabelle Arradon said the law lets the Department of Justice close down websites and monitor online activities without a warrant, violating due process guarantees.
“Instead of bringing its libel legislation in line with its United Nations treaty obligations, the Philippines has set the stage for further human rights violations by embedding criminal libel in the 'cybercrime' law,” said Arradon.
She also warned the law, which had been opposed by several groups, "will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.”
AI USA noted that under the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, a person could be sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for posting online comments judged to be libelous.
It also noted the Philippine Constitution establishes that "no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech."
“The ‘cybercrime’ law rolls back protections for free speech in the Philippines. Under this law, a peaceful posting on the Internet could result in a prison sentence,” said Arradon.
AI noted the law, which took effect last Oct. 3, broadly extends criminal libel to apply to acts “committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.”
It also increases the criminal penalties for libel in computer-related cases.
Incompatible with international covenant
AI noted the UN Human Rights Committee in January 2011 found the Philippines’s criminalization of libel to be “incompatible” with the freedom of expression clause in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The UN Human Rights Committee said that after journalist Alexander Adonis was imprisoned for libel for two years in 2007, the Philippines was “obligated to take steps to prevent similar violations occurring in the future, including by reviewing the relevant libel legislation.” — ELR, GMA News