(Washington, D.C.) – In celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have today led a bipartisan group of thirteen senators in introducing a Senate resolution to honor the many thousands of journalists worldwide who battle daily to bring vital news and information to their readers and viewers, often in the face of harassment and violence. PEN America thanks the drafters and original cosponsors of the resolution, which underscores the importance of enduring support for a free press “as a priority of the United States in promoting democracy, human rights, and good governance.” The resolution also documents and denounces a series of attacks on journalists in countries across the globe.

“We congratulate Senator Menendez and Senator Rubio for their leadership in crafting such a powerful statement about the harsh realities journalists confront in so many parts of the world,” said Thomas O. Melia, director of PEN America’s Washington, D.C. office. “Especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, journalists and media workers are more needed than ever, providing accurate information about public health and the economic crises that are spreading worldwide. They are also indispensable in challenging the autocrats who have embraced the coronavirus as a vehicle for further restrictions on civil liberties and human rights. The alarming acceleration of censorship, imprisonment, and threats of physical violence this past year makes support from Congress all the more essential in securing this bedrock of global, democratic freedoms.”

In addition to recognizing the more than 200 journalists imprisoned and 25 killed for their work in 2019, this year’s resolution highlights the struggles of media workers in Saudi Arabia (including 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write awardees Loujain Al-Hathloul, Eman Al-Nafjan, and Nouf Abdulaziz), occupied Crimea (with the case of Nariman Memedeminovm imprisoned for exposing human rights violations), and China (including the case of Xu Zhiyongm detained after criticizing Chinese authorities).

“We are pleased that a bipartisan group of Senators has reiterated their support for freedom of the press broadly while recognizing urgent cases of harassed, imprisoned, and otherwise targeted journalists,” PEN America’s Melia said. “Today’s introduction marks a strong first step towards defending the world’s media workers in these trying times.”