(Washington, D.C.) — Today Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Jamal Khashoggi Press Freedom Accountability Act of 2021, which would provide additional penalties for those who commit gross human rights violations against journalists worldwide. PEN America applauds Rep. Schiff and Sen. Klobuchar for proposing this legislation, as well as for their continued advocacy for journalists and press freedom in the United States and around the world.

“The Schiff/Klobuchar bill is an important step toward expanding protections for journalists who face risks of imprisonment, torture, and even death for the work they do every day discerning and reporting the facts,” said Thomas O. Melia, Washington director of PEN America. “Enacting this bill will not only shore up the free press as a bulwark of global security and democracy, but will enhance accountability by imposing sanctions on those responsible for committing gross human rights violations against journalists.”

This legislation would require the president to impose sanctions on perpetrators and enablers of violence against journalists and others communicating newsworthy information and facts, as well as oblige the secretary of state to publish the names of those responsible for violence against journalists. The legislation would also amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to include online harassment and surveillance as violations of human rights.

“The gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi diplomatic facility in a third country underscores the extent to which those in power in Riyadh will go to stifle freedom of expression, silence their critics and eliminate the threat they believe independent journalists pose to their rule,” said PEN America’s Melia. “PEN America endorses this initiative to protect journalists across the globe who, often in the face of violent reprisal, take on the great responsibility of providing necessary information to the public.”