Call for the protection of the rights of the press

The media is entitled to cover protests without obstruction or fear.

The Rory Peck Trust, along with over 70 organisations around the world, has signed an urgent call for the Trump administration to respect and protect the right of the press to report freely on mass protests in the United States without fear of violence, intimidation, detention or other violations.

After numerous accounts of violence perpetrated against journalists in the United States as they have sought to report on mass protests across the country, journalists, press freedom organisations and industry groups are calling on President Trump to speak out forcefully against these attacks and in support of the rights of journalists to report freely, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The full statement: 

Dear President Trump, 

We are writing to you as journalists, press freedom organizations, and industry groups to express our deep dismay at the recent violence perpetrated against journalists in the United States as they have sought to report on mass protests across the country. We urge you to speak out forcefully against these attacks and in support of the rights of journalists to report freely, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

The United States’ history of protecting free expression and defending and protecting the rights of journalists is much admired beyond U.S. borders. This is borne out of a recognition that journalists serve as independent monitors of social and political developments, and are essential to democracy, transparency, and accountability. 

Attacks on journalists in the U.S. threaten to undermine this commitment. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has received reports of at least 279 violations of press freedom across the country since protests demanding an end to police brutality and calling for social justice broke out on May 26. It is vital that state and local government officials take steps to ensure such violations never happen again, and that the perpetrators are held to account. 

We call on you to send a clear and unambiguous message across the country and around the world about the importance of the press freedom and work of the press. Local leaders need to hear unambiguously from you that they have a responsibility to fully investigate these attacks, protect journalists, and ensure that they can work unobstructed and without fear of injury or reprisal. 

Press freedom in the United States is critical to people around the world. Thousands of foreign correspondents are based in Washington D.C. and throughout the U.S., where they are tasked with telling the story of America to their publics back home. The ability of journalists to work freely in the U.S. creates a more enlightened global citizenry. 

What happens in the United States also has repercussions for journalists around the world, including American correspondents. When the U.S. backslides it sends a green light to authoritarian-leaning leaders around the world to restrict the press and the free flow of information. 

China, Iran, and Turkey have already opportunistically spoken out about the heavy- handed police tactics used here, using the crackdown on the press in this country to legitimize their own repression of independent journalism. 

Instead of condemning journalists and the media, we urge you to commend and celebrate them as the embodiment of the First Amendment, which is the envy of so many countries around the world. 

The signatories:

  1. Committee to Protect Journalists
  2. International Federation of Journalists
  3. Free Press Unlimited
  4. World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)
  5. International Press Institute
  6. Pakistan Press Foundation 
  7. Independent Journalism Center
  8. Samir Kassir Foundation – SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom
  9. ARTICLE 19 
  10. Press Union of Liberia
  11. Rory Peck Trust
  12. INSI – international News Safety Institute
  13. Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)
  14. Somali Media Women Association (SOMWA).
  15. Association for International Broadcasting
  16. SembraMedia
  17. Rural Media Network Pakistan
  18. International Women’s Media Foundation
  19. Internews 
  20. Fundación Gabo (Gabriel García Márquez Foundation)
  21. Reporters Without Borders
  22. Centre for Law and Democracy
  23. Institute for Regional Media and Information
  24. Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  25. DW Akademie
  26. Media Watch
  27. Index on Censorship
  28. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  29. Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
  30. Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey (IFoX)
  31. World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)
  32. Free Media Movement – Sri Lanka
  33. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain
  34. Bytes 4 All
  35. International Center for Journalists (ICFJ)
  36. Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ)
  37. International Media Development Advisers (IMDA)
  38. Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication
  39. Newsgain
  40. Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD)
  41. PEN America
  42. PEN International
  43. Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE)
  44. Media Foundation for West Africa
  45. Media Focus International (MFI)
  46. South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
  47. Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP)
  48. South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)
  49. Media Institute Southern Africa – Zimbabwe
  50. Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)
  51. Norwegian PEN
  52. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
  53. Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) Indonesia
  54. Cartoonist Rights Network International (CRNI)
  55. Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI)
  56. Independent Journalism Center (IJC)
  57. Hong Kong Journalists Association
  58. International Media Support (IMS)
  59. Acclaim Nigeria Magazine (ANM)
  60. Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting 
  61. Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA)
  62. Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (Abraji)
  63. Centre for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP)
  64. Global Voices
  65. Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)
  66. Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN)
  67. Project Syndicate
  68. The Center for Independent Journalism, Romania
  69. Instituto Prensa y Sociedad Venezuela 
  70. Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
  71. Canadian Media Lawyers’ Association
  72. Metamorphosis Foundation