(Washington, D.C.) – To commemorate World Press Freedom Day, Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and cosponsors introduced a resolution in the U.S. Senate Tuesday to honor journalists worldwide who have braved harassment, imprisonment, and violence as a result of their work. The resolution underscores that the past year has been particularly difficult for press freedom worldwide with at least 30 journalists killed in 2020, and reaffirms the vital role of the press in “informing local and international audiences about public health crises, countering misinformation and disinformation, and furthering discourse and debate to advance healthy democracies.”

The resolution expresses “[dismay] that, under cover of the COVID-19 pandemic, many governments have restricted the work of journalists reporting on the public health crisis and on peaceful protests on a variety of issues.” Countries with longstanding suppression of the press, including Saudi Arabia, China, Egypt, Turkey, and Iran are featured, as well as countries with more recent crackdowns, like Belarus and India.

“PEN America welcomes the introduction of this resolution at a critical moment for press freedom,” said PEN America’s interim Washington director Dokhi Fassihian. “Sunday’s shocking abduction of blogger and journalist Raman Pratasevich from the air by the Lukashenka regime reminds us of the incredible dangers journalists face in doing their jobs, especially from emboldened authoritarian leaders—and increasingly beyond their countries’ physical borders. It has never been more important for Congress to speak out vociferously in support of a global free press and to ensure that those that target and harm journalists are held fully accountable.”

In addition to commending journalists for their work, the resolution calls on the president and the secretary of state to to “preserve and build upon the leadership of the United States on issues relating to freedom of the press,” to “transparently investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators of against journalists,” and “ to promote the respect and protection of free press around the world.”

PEN America supported the resolution, along with Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Freedom House.