Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.) have introduced a bill, named in honor of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, to ensure that governments are held accountable for human rights abuses committed against journalists.
The bill is supported by Reporters Without Borders; PEN America; Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), Freedom House and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
While the bill would help secure justice for electronic and print journalists generally, it has a specific target--the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a resident of the United States who was working for the Washington Post when he was murdered at the direction of the Saudis due to his writings critical of the government.
The Jamal Khashoggi Press Freedom Accountability Act would "include targeted sanctions, restrict foreign aid, and increase reporting on human rights abuses committed against journalists by foreign governments."
The Trump Administration has drawn criticism from the journalism community for not taking such steps to sanction the Saudi government and for defending the crown prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, even after his own CIA concluded that the prince had ordered the killing.
“This legislation, named in honor of the late Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, would build upon the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act to strengthen the United States’ commitment to hold to account those who would target journalists for violence and persecution,” said bill supporter Rep. Adam Schiff.
Pearl was the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered in 2002 while covering Islamic extremists in Pakistan. He had once covered the media beat in Washington so was well known in communications journalism circles.
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