PEN America Welcomes Rep. Schiff’s Bill Promoting Accountability for Human Rights Violations Against Journalists
Newly introduced legislation would exact penalties on those who persecute journalists worldwide
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Washington, D.C.) — Today Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced the Jamal Khashoggi Press Freedom Accountability Act of 2020, which would provide additional penalties on those who commit gross human rights violations against journalists worldwide. PEN America applauds Rep. Schiff for proposing this legislation, as well as for his continued advocacy for journalists and press freedom in the United States and around the world.
“Rep. Schiff’s 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, imposing sanctions on those responsible for committing gross human rights violations against journalists.”
This month marks the second anniversary of the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist, at the hands of Saudi intelligence officers in Istanbul. 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 will go to stifle freedom of expression, silence their critics, and eliminate the threat they believe independent journalists pose to their rule,” said Melia. “PEN America endorses Rep. Schiff’s initiative to protect journalists across the globe who, often in the face of malevolent actors, take on the great responsibility of providing necessary information to the public.”