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Connolly, Allred Introduce Legislation to Protect Journalists, Promote Press Freedom Around the World

Bipartisan Bill Creates New Ambassador For Press Freedom At State Department

Today, Congressman Colin Allred (TX-32) and Congressman Gerry Connolly (VA-11) both members of the House Foreign Relations Committee introduced legislation to promote press freedom and the protection of journalists worldwide. The Global Press Freedom Act would direct the U.S. State Department to establish an Ambassador-at-Large for press freedom and train Foreign Service Officers on how to help promote media independence and protect foreign journalists. The legislation was led in the Senate by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Todd Young (R-IN), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“At this moment in our shared human history, we need journalists more than ever before,” said Congressman Connolly. “Yet, right now, journalism itself is under unprecedented attack. From intimidation and persecution of individual reporters to broader crackdowns on freedom of the press, this is a perilous moment for truth-seekers across the globe. We must do all we can to support and expand freedom of the press – a foundational democratic ideal.”

“Democracies across the world are at risk, and more than ever we need a robust and healthy free press,” said Congressman Allred. “In 2022 alone, 363 journalists were detained in more than 30 countries, which is an undeniable attack on press freedom. America’s leadership on this front is as important as ever, and the continued success of independent journalists is dependent on protecting their rights as well as the right to freedom of expression. This bill advances that important goal by establishing an Office of Press Freedom to use diplomatic tools to coordinate efforts to defend press freedom abroad.”

“Our democracy depends on the ability of journalists to ask tough questions, dig for the truth, and report what they find — without fear of violence or persecution. Freedom of the press is a priority in our founding documents, and it must be a cornerstone of our domestic and foreign policy,” said Senator Schatz. “Our bill reasserts our commitment to a free press at home and abroad, empowering the State Department to engage with these issues diplomatically on the world stage.”

“Freedom of the press is essential to democracy, good governance, and holding those in power accountable. This principle was enshrined in our founding documents for that reason. Our proposal will empower American diplomats to support a free press around the globe,” said Senator Young.

Press freedom has faced a staggering global decline in recent years. According to Reporters Without Borders’ 2023 World Press Freedom Index, the environment for journalism is “satisfactory” or better in just 3 out of 10 countries.

The Global Press Freedom Act aims to institutionalize America’s commitment to advancing press freedom abroad. The legislation would create an Ambassador-at-Large for press freedom, who would be tasked with engaging with foreign governments and organizations, drawing attention to violations of press freedom and reporter safety, and ensuring each country’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices prioritizes press freedom in its “Free Expression” section. The bill would also establish a press freedom curriculum in the training of Foreign Service Officers, empowering them to assist in the protection of journalists and press freedom while stationed overseas.

The is supported by PEN America, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Freedom House.

The full text of the bill is available here.
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