Congressional Resolutions Marking World Press Freedom Day Reaffirm the Centrality of a Free Press to Democracy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C.—PEN America today applauded the introduction of two tandem bipartisan Congressional resolutions marking World Press Freedom Day, recognizing “widening threats to freedoms of the press and expression around the world, reaffirming the centrality of a free and independent press to the health of democracy, and reaffirming freedom of the press as a priority of the United States in promoting democracy, human rights and good governance.”
In the United States Senate, the resolution was proposed by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Casey (D-PA), along with 10 others. In the House of Representatives, the resolution has been introduced by the two co-chairs of the Press Freedom Caucus, Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Steve Chabot (R-OH).
PEN America’s Washington Director, Thomas O. Melia, commended these initiatives, noting that “It is more important than ever before that public officials in America speak up for the press, as the threats against journalists on every continent are mounting day by day. That these initiatives command bipartisan support in Congress is heartening, given the fractious nature of politics these days.”
Since 1993, the United Nations has recognized World Press Freedom Day annually around the globe on May 3. It has been a day dedicated to affirming the fundamental principles of press freedom, celebrating the positive impact journalism has on communities, honoring journalists for the work they do to hold the powerful accountable, and standing up on behalf of those who have been silenced, imprisoned, or killed for their work as journalists.
In addition to citing the authoritative research and advocacy for press freedom by Freedom House, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders, both resolutions specifically refer to the recipients of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award in 2018—the Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, sentenced in September 2018 to seven years in prison for their reporting on atrocities committed by the Burmese military against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar. The 2019 recipients referenced in the two Congressional resolutions are writer-activists Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and Eman Al-Nafjan who have been subjected to imprisonment, solitary confinement, and torture by the Saudi Arabian government as part of its brutal crackdown on individuals who raise their voices in defense of women’s rights in the Kingdom.
The full text of the U.S. Senate resolution can be found here.
Find out more about PEN America’s national campaign for World Press Freedom Day at https://pen.org/free-press-2019/
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. pen.org
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