Cardin, Kaine, Merkley, Schatz, Van Hollen Introduce Resolution Recognizing Importance of Press Freedom Around the World

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced a Senate resolution recognizing widening threats to freedom of the press around the world and reaffirming the vital role of free and independent press in promoting democracy, human rights, and good governance. Following World Press Freedom Day earlier this month, the resolution sheds light on the bravery of journalists in every region of the world, and underscores freedom of the press as a top priority of the United States.

“A free press is essential to upholding democratic societies, to exposing corruption, and to providing transparency to the public,” said Chair Cardin. “It is no coincidence that efforts to undermine freedom of expression have accompanied declines in global press freedom in recent decades. Tragically, journalists in every region of the world continue to be harassed, wrongfully imprisoned, or even killed. This resolution pays tribute to their tremendous sacrifices in the pursuit of truth and justice and reaffirms U.S. commitment to promote the respect and protection of press freedom around the world.”

“A free and vibrant press is crucial to any democracy. At a time when democratic values and institutions are facing unprecedented threats around the world, we must redouble our efforts to protect journalists and bolster the freedom of expression,” said Senator Kaine. “Today and every day, we must remain committed to protecting journalists from violence and intimidation and push for the immediate release of all journalists unjustly detained around the world. This includes Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and Virginian and recent Pulitzer Prize winner Vladimir Kara-Murza – both of whom are currently imprisoned in Russia. And we must honor the memory of Virginian and Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated in October 2018 by Saudi operatives.”

“As we see increasing threats to journalists here at home and increasing attacks on journalists around the globe, we must reaffirm that censorship, intimidation, and vicious assaults on a free press cannot and will not be normalized,” said Senator Merkley. “America’s founders saw journalism as so critical to a functioning democracy that they enshrined the right to a free press in our Constitution’s First Amendment. The United States must redouble its commitment to safeguarding a free, independent press that is essential to thriving democracies here and around the globe.”

“A free press is a cornerstone of any healthy democracy – and it’s vital that we protect and defend it, at home and abroad,” said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The growing attacks on credible, independent journalism are alarming, particularly given the many crises and conflicts happening globally. People rely on journalists to understand what’s happening in their own communities and make sense of the world. In turn, journalists go to extraordinary lengths, often at great personal risk, to report the truth. Unfortunately, we continue to see countless journalists – in Gaza, Russia, and elsewhere – lose their lives or be thrown in jail just for doing their jobs. Suppressing press freedom and targeting journalists is the oldest trick in the authoritarian playbook. Anyone who believes in democracy and freedom ought to be unreserved and unequivocal in our support for the free press.”

“An independent press is fundamental to democracy, transparency and accountability. Yet around the world, journalists face increasing threats on their ability to report the facts,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This resolution underscores our commitment to upholding the freedom of the press and defending the rights of journalists everywhere who do the essential work of shining a light on the truth.”