Michael believes the freedom of speech and freedom of the press are essential to human dignity and the rule of law, and he believes the United States must stand up for these fundamental rights. In the case of Jamal Khashoggi, Michael has said President Trump’s unwillingness to hold the Saudi regime accountable in effect legitimizes his brutal murder and coverup and undermines press freedom.
The targeting and harassment of human rights defenders and journalists is deeply disturbing. When our president calls journalists “enemy of the people” and regularly casts real reporting as “fake news,” he creates a climate that helps prop up dictators around the world and endangers journalists and journalism both here at home and globally. We must embrace the important role that journalism plays in any healthy democracy and ensure human rights defenders have the space and safety to do their work. When governments do mistreat or abuse journalists and human rights defenders we must be vocal and persistent in holding them to account. The killing of Jamal Khashoggi was a wakeup call to the threats far too many journalists and dissidents face every day. I have pressed for the Trump Administration to hold the perpetrators of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder accountable through sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act and would look to expand the use of such sanctions against other officials accused of abuses against journalists and human rights defenders.
Human rights defenders and journalists have always been under threat, but risks are skyrocketing. They are being attacked by more governments previously supportive of an open civil society. The current Administration has contributed to the vitriol against the media and set a precedent other governments have adopted. This is unacceptable.
America was one of the biggest supporters of human rights defenders and journalists. To reclaim that role, we should publicly condemn any attack on those holding governments accountable. We can use global platforms like the U.N. and G7 to call out attacks and regularly meet with human rights defenders to elevate their messages. At home, let’s set the example with regular press briefings and traveling with the press corps.
We can also support human rights defenders in practical ways, like ensuring access to technology to collect and share information without interference from government censors and adequate export controls on American technologies so we’re not contributing to state surveillance. Finally, we can support their physical security with assistance for safe workspaces, legal representation, and expedited visas.
The U.S. should not tolerate the targeting, harassment, and killing of human rights defenders and journalists around the world. In collaboration with our allies, we should ensure those who commit such acts are held responsible. The Trump Administration’s response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi has undermined the U.S.’ moral standing in the world. Trump again is pursuing a transactional foreign policy rather than a moral one. As President, I will lead by example for respecting the press corps and having zero tolerance for violence against journalists.
The detention, killing and other violence against journalists and human rights activists silences these important voices that shine a light on corruption and human rights violations. Supporting journalistic freedom is critical not just for freedom of the press, but for the fight for fundamental improvements to the rule of law. That is why I have written to King Salman of Saudi Arabia calling for the release of human rights and women’s rights activists, some of whom were provided a reprieve as a result. That is also why I co-sponsored legislation seeking to hold Saudi government leaders accountable for the brutal death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Such violence is unacceptable and we must always make clear to those countries that the United States will not sit idly by as journalists, human rights lawyers and activists are detained, tortured and killed.
The United States must be an unswerving champion of human rights and the free press, and its president must always be on the side of protecting those who stand up for our fundamental values, rather than inciting violence against them. Autocrats, corrupt politicians, and powerful corporations do everything they can to suppress, intimidate, and even commit harm against journalists. President Trump’s relentless attacks on the news media and human rights activists alike are disgusting and antithetical to American values, which celebrate journalists as truth-tellers on science and the public interest instead of smearing them as the “enemy of the people”. That is why I have proposed a plan to totally reform American foreign policy, placing the defeat of climate change at its core, alongside the defense of human rights and international law against dictators, autocrats, and corporate bad actors.
In my Global Climate Mobilization plan, I have committed to using the authority granted by Congress and presidential proclamation to hold accountable those in foreign countries who target, harass, and kill journalists and human rights activists. I will follow the law where President Trump has broken it and make a presidential determination, as requested by Congress, on the role played by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And unlike the Trump Administration, when I am president there will be no hesitation or reluctance to confront foreign governments over mistreatment and imprisonment of journalists and human rights activists.
Bernie believes the United States must condemn governments which suppress free speech and ensure their is accountability for human rights violations.
Like in the atrocious case of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in which the CIA confirmed was an obvious order of the Saudi crown prince. The United States must thoroughly reevaluate our relationship with the brutal Saudi dictatorship, and start by ending support for the catastrophic war in Yemen.
The United States needs to engage diplomatically to ensure journalists’ rights are protected. Journalists play a vital role by keeping us informed of events and questioning government officials about how their decisions impact people’s lives. Many journalists put themselves in danger to report on wars or to cover human rights abuses. Our country can use our considerable influence and leverage it to help keep journalists safe. It is deeply concerning that Donald Trump has chosen to vilify reporters, failing to recognize the important contributions that a free press makes throughout the world, particularly in our democracy. I have been very concerned about how this administration handled the Saudi killing of Jamal Khashoggi, and that it was unwilling to help New York Times reporter Declan Walsh. When the United States doesn’t speak up forcefully about protecting freedom of the press, it sends the wrong message to authoritarian regimes throughout the world who would routinely trample on these rights. I’ve also prioritized the need to stand up for the rights of environmental journalists in my International Plan for Climate Justice.
I’ve introduced H.R. 1684, the Journalist Protection Act, to make physical attacks on those reporting the news a federal crime.
In response to the heinous torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents, I urged the president to invoke the Global Magnitsky Act and impose visa bans and targeted sanctions. When I’m president, no nation – regardless of other relationships with America – will get a pass for such behavior.
I support the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which calls for creating a coordinated inter-agency mechanism to handle issues related to journalists’ safety of journalists as well as helping countries develop legislation and mechanisms favorable to freedom of expression and information, and supporting their efforts to implement existing international rules and principles.
I cosponsored H.Res. 345, recognizing widening threats to freedoms of the press and expression around the world, reaffirming the centrality of a free and independent press to the health of democracy, and reaffirming freedom of the press as a priority of the United States in promoting democracy, human rights, and good governance in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2019.
A free press is crucial to vibrant democracies and strong communities across our country and around the world. I fiercely opposed President Trump’s decision to prioritize weapons sales and the interests of defense contractors by refusing to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. My anti-corruption bill – the largest anti-corruption bill since Watergate –would also end influence-peddling by foreign actors and limit the influence of foreign companies, individuals, and governments on public policy. My Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act would further slam shut the revolving door between giant contractors and the Pentagon.
I have also co-sponsored legislation that would promote protections for human rights defenders and journalists in the Northern Triangle. I co-sponsored a resolution calling on the Iranian government to respect people’s right to peacefully protest and a resolution calling on Saudi Arabia to release human rights and women’s rights activists and journalists from prison. I also co-sponsored a resolution that urged countries to free 20 women who were unjustly imprisoned around the world. And I co-sponsored a resolution calling for the immediate release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Seo Oo, journalists unjustly imprisoned in Burma who were finally released in May.
Changes in technology have made this issue even more complex. Social media and the internet have broadened the definition of journalist, and activists are more visible. In this new world, repressive regimes are seeing new threats. We have to ensure that human rights are protected.
Domestically, we need to stand up to this administration’s wholesale assault on the media. It’s resulting in death threats and could result in a chilling effect on our media. We also need to invest in local journalism, which I will do through my local journalism fund and National Journalism Fellows program.
Abroad, we have to do better at sending a clear message to countries that are engaged in these abuses. What does it say when we go through with billions of dollars of arms sales to Saudi Arabia after they kill a journalist working in America? Countries that engage in these abuses will have to face consequences, such as sanctions, and individuals involved in ordering or carrying out these crimes should have assets under US jurisdiction seized.
President Trump has a robust record of success and we allow that record to speak for itself www.promiseskept.com.