WASHINGTON — Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today led a group of 11 of their Senate colleagues in introducing a Senate resolution in recognition of burgeoning threats to freedoms of the press and expression around the world. The bipartisan resolution maintains the centrality of an independent press to the health of democracy and reaffirms freedom of the press as a priority of the United States in promoting democracy, human rights, and good governance.
“With this resolution, we honor the immense sacrifices that journalists everywhere have borne in their dogged pursuit of the unvarnished truth and their unceasing quest to inform the public. With a global decline in democracy, their work to ensure transparency, accountability and the rule of law is more important than ever,” Chairman Menendez said. “From Belarus to Venezuela, Ethiopia to Hong Kong to Burma, a free and independent press is not only a foundational pillar of democracy and a vital check on government overreach and abuse, but is also paramount to societal growth and advancement. In the face of unprecedented assaults against the fundamental rights of free expression and free press around the globe, I am proud to lead this effort to ensure the United States remains resolute in our defense of those brave enough to hold up a mirror to the powerful and tell a story that deserves to be told.”
“I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this resolution and advancing policies that ensure freedom of the press and free expression,” Senator Rubio said. “From Russia, to China, Hong Kong, Egypt, Belarus, Turkey, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, reporters continue to courageously fight in defense of the truth throughout the world. We remain firm in our commitment to advance and support press freedom.”
Joining Menendez and Rubio in cosponsoring the resolution were Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.).
“A free press keeps governments accountable by bringing to light human rights abuses and corruption where they occur. In far too many countries around the world, journalists and others in independent media risk their lives to carry out this important work,” said Senator Cardin. “I am proud to join my colleagues in this resolution that reminds us of the important role of free media in our society on World Press Freedom Day and every day.”
“Belarus's brazen hijacking of a commercial flight to arrest independent journalist Roman Protasevich is the latest in a string of disturbing attacks on journalists around the globe, from Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder, to the imprisonment of Reuters reporters reporting on atrocities against the Rohingya in Burma," said Senator Merkley. “Journalists dedicate their lives to telling the truth and sharing the perspectives that all global citizens need to stay informed. That understanding is a critical component in any effort to making the world a better place. Especially as we set out to respond to global crises like the pandemic or climate chaos, journalists’ work is essential, and must be protected.”
“Democracy depends on the ability of journalists to ask tough questions, dig for the truth, and report what they find — without fear of violence or persecution. We must always stand for press freedom whenever and wherever it is threatened,” said Senator Schatz.
“The independent and free press plays a vital role as chroniclers and defenders of the fundamental rights of our democracies, providing insight into governments around the world, protecting the right to free expression, and holding open the doors to truth,” said Senator Markey. “Today, transparency and accountability of governments is more important than ever before and freedom of the press is essential to that endeavor. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this resolution to protect freedom of the press here in the United States and in countries around the world.”
"The media plays a role in holding everybody accountable through the transparency of information. They hang a lantern on issues and let the light shine through,” said Senator Cantwell.
“A free press is vital to the success of any democracy,” said Senator Cramer. “With recent crackdowns on the media in communist countries like China and North Korea, it is important we reaffirm our support for journalists across the globe who seek to provide important information to the public and speak truth to power.”
“A free press is an essential protection against tyranny. We must stand in solidarity with those who report the facts at home and abroad, and protect this vital freedom with every tool available. No one should be persecuted or killed for telling the truth,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“A free and open press is vital to holding the powerful accountable. This is especially true in parts of the world where transparency and accountability are threatened or actively suppressed by authoritarian regimes. I’m pleased to join my colleagues in sending a clear signal of our support for the rights of journalists to do their jobs free from intimidation or retaliation,” Senator Boozman said.
Find a copy of the resolution HERE.