Reporters Without Borders welcomes the two legislative proposals to promote press freedom around the world that were tabled in the US Congress on February 4th. RSF also considers President Joe Biden’s remark on the subject of freedom of the press in his first major foreign policy speech to be an important sign after four years of anti-media hate speech under Biden’s predecessor Trump. Biden also said on February 4 that a free press was “essential to the health of democracy”.
“In view of the United States’ continuing prominent role on the international stage, it is imperative that the United States once again stand up for the protection of journalists and the promotion of freedom of the press around the world. The fact that the Jamal Khashoggi Press Freedom Accountability Act and the Global Press Freedom Act are being launched is an important step in the right direction, ”said RSF Managing Director Christian Mihr. “Encouraging signs are also coming from the White House – for example that President Biden has reintroduced the daily press conferences and in his speech on foreign policy has assured that a free press is ‘not an opponent’.”
The Jamal Khashoggi Press Freedom Accountability Act , named in honor of the murdered Saudi Arabian Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi , is intended to build on a law passed in 2010 by then President Barack Obama in honor of the US journalist Daniel Pearl who was murdered in Pakistan unterzeichnet wurde. Ziel des neuen Gesetzes soll es sein, dass die USA sich nach Verbrechen gegen Medienschaffende überall auf der Welt bemühen, die Verantwortlichen zur Rechenschaft zu ziehen. So könnte nicht nur der ermordete Khashoggi Gerechtigkeit erfahren. Auch könnten Journalistinnen und Journalisten präventiv geschützt werden, wenn ihnen Folter, Inhaftierung und sogar Tod drohen. Die demokratische Senatorin Amy Klobuchar und ihr Parteifreund, der Kongressabgeordnete Adam Schiff, brachten die Gesetzesvorlage ein.
The Global Press Freedom Act aims to institutionalize America’s commitment to promoting freedom of the press abroad. The law would create the post of general ambassador for press freedom, who would have the task of liaising with foreign governments and organizations in order to draw attention to violations of the freedom of the press and the security of media professionals. This person should also ensure that the US State Department’s annual human rights country report has its own section on freedom of expression. RSF has sent a letter of support for the bill to the office of Democratic Senator Brian Schatz, who co-introduced the bill with Republican Senator Todd Young.
The new US President Joe Biden took office on January 20th. One day later, the weekday press conferences were reintroduced in the White House . Biden’s Democratic Party has had a majority in both chambers of Congress since January 21st.
The USA ranks 45th out of 180 states on the list of press freedom.