Philippine court bans TV coverage of massacre trial

Updated 12 November 2012
0

Philippine court bans TV coverage of massacre trial

MANILA: The Philippines’ Supreme Court on Monday banned television coverage of trials related to the country’s worst political massacre in which 58 people died, sparking outrage from the government and media groups.
Reversing its own landmark decision made last year — that for the first time allowed a live broadcast of any trial — the court said showing the proceedings on television would unfairly harm the defendants’ cases.
“A camera that broadcasts the proceedings live on television has no place in a criminal trial because of its prejudicial effects on the rights of accused individuals,” said the the court ruling.
Leaders of a then-politically powerful family in the violence-wracked southern Philippines, the Ampatuans, are accused of orchestrating the massacre of 58 people in 2009 in an attempt to stop a local rival’s election challenge.
The Ampatuans allegedly led a group of about 100 gunmen in stopping a convoy of cars carrying relatives of the rival political candidate, their lawyers and journalists, and then shooting them dead in a remote area.
The family patriarch, Andal Ampatuan Snr, as well as his son and namesake, who allegedly personally led the massacre, are among 75 people currently on trial over the murders.
The Supreme Court’s decision upheld a petition filed by Ampatuan Jnr, who argued that live coverage made him look guilty.
President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman immediately expressed concern over the court’s ruling.
“This is the litmus test of the judiciary and it is important for us, both the public and media, to be able to know what’s going on in the massacre trial,” spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which has a strong interest in the case because 32 of the victims were media workers, said it would appeal.
Nevertheless, television networks had not broadcast the proceedings prior to Monday’s ruling because conditions imposed last year made it impractical.
One of the conditions was that a broadcaster had to show all the court hearings, not parts of them.
Prosecutors and rights groups have warned the trials, which began in 2010, will drag on for years or even decades because of delaying tactics by the defense and as the country’s justice system is overburdened.


Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

Updated 19 April 2018
0

Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

  • 15 ambassadors will join Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
  • The three-day retreat will begin on Friday.

United Nations, United States: After a week of bitter acrimony over Syria, UN Security Council ambassadors are heading to a farmhouse in southern Sweden for a retreat to try to break the deadlock over how to end the war.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley and her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia will be among the 15 ambassadors joining Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
The three-day retreat beginning Friday comes after one of the council’s most divisive periods, with the United States and Russia split over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma that lead to military action by Washington and its allies against Syria.
The council met five times on Syria last week including on Tuesday when Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution setting up a chemical weapons probe while two other proposed measures failed to pass.
The Russia-US rivalry prompted Guterres to declare that the Cold War was “back with a vengeance.”
Asked whether he expected awkward moments during the Swedish retreat, Nebenzia told reporters: “I will see how they feel about dealing with me after all that happened.”
“It’s not news to anyone that the council is divided on Syria,” said Sweden’s Deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau. “There is some need for humility and patience at this moment.”
The council will be staying at Backakra, the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, who was the United Nations’ second secretary-general.
The residence located on the southern tip of Sweden, far from Stockholm, is a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy, said Skau.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.
The annual brainstorming session usually takes place in upstate New York, but Sweden, which is a non-permanent council member, offered to host this year’s gathering.
Guterres had told council members that the focus of the meeting would be his plan for a “surge of diplomacy” to address conflicts worldwide, but the council’s deadlock over Syria is emerging as the top priority.