America’s leading professional organization for journalists applauded on Thursday efforts by U.S. lawmakers to advance press freedom.
Legislation filed in the House Thursday would bar foreign aid for government entities that the U.S. government determines to have egregiously violated journalists’ human rights, and it would require sanctions on individuals who participated in such acts.
The bill, named “The Jamal Khashoggi Press Freedom Accountability Act of 2021,” was authored in the House by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. A companion measure was offered in the Senate last year by Democratic Sens. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian Washington Post columnist, was killed in October 2018 in Turkey by agents of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Meanwhile, a separate bill unveiled in the Senate on Thursday would direct the U.S. State Department to establish an ambassador-at-large for press freedom and train foreign-service officers on how to promote media independence and protect foreign journalists. The bill, “The Global Press Freedom Act,” was written by Sens. Todd Young, an Indiana Republican, and Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat.
In 2020, 21 journalists were killed because they reported the news, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Several other indicators of press independence and safety have shown declines of late.
National Press Club President Lisa Nicole Matthews and NPC Journalism Institute President Angela Greiling Keane issued the following statement:
“Every year, dozens of journalists worldwide are either killed or attacked, and the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi was one of the more horrific examples of this unacceptable phenomenon. We applaud any effort that would serve justice in cases where journalists are killed or otherwise grossly abused or that would promote global press freedom.”