WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), Ranking Member and Chairman, respectfully, of the Senate Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee that oversees human rights and democracy, introduced the World Press Freedom Protection and Reciprocity Act, which seeks to protect and promote worldwide press freedom and enhance reciprocity for U.S. news and media outlets.
U.S. Representatives Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.) are introducing companion legislation in the House.
“Across the globe, journalists are targeted with impunity as repressive regimes attempt to cover up their own corruption, brutality and incompetence. Far too often, reporters face intimidation and imprisonment. We have only seen attacks against journalists and media personnel increase with the coronavirus pandemic, which authoritarian regimes have exploited to crack down on press freedom,” Senator Cardin, author of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act said. “A strong and independent media, free from political pressure and censorship, is fundamental to sustainable and accountable democracy. The United States must use the Global Magnitsky Act and all tools available to hold accountable those individuals who violate the human rights of those who serve such an essential function in our open society.”
“Authoritarian regimes around the world continue to use sophisticated tools to censor the free flow of information and to silence independent media. Countries like Russia and China take advantage of open societies to spread their propaganda,” Rubio said. “I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan World Press Freedom Protection and Reciprocity Act, that will hold accountable those individuals who target journalists and stifle press freedom. This bill reaffirms the United States’ commitment to advancing the principles that are critical for healthy democracies.”
The World Press Freedom Protection and Reciprocity Act:
(1) Provides a statement of policy on protecting journalists worldwide;
(2) Requires the administration to establish a plan to negotiate reciprocal access for U.S. news and media organizations, and their employees, globally;
(3) Authorizes sanctions for foreign persons responsible for jailing, killing, or torturing journalists and those that threaten the safety of U.S. journalists and media personnel;
(4) Requires clear labeling of information distributed by foreign governments; and
(5) Enhances reporting on countries with press freedom concerns who receive U.S. foreign assistance and security assistance.