In this week’s OPC Press Freedom Update, we look at a press freedom role reversal for the U.S. and the Covid-19 outbreak:
International Leaders Ask U.S. to Uphold Press Freedom Amid Protests. In an unusual turnabout, global leaders from Australia, Germany and Turkey are demanding that the United States uphold its press freedom laws and ensure the safety of reporters – both foreign and domestic – covering the racial justice protests in American cities. For years, the U.S. has lobbied foreign leaders to respect press freedom on behalf of U.S. correspondents reporting from abroad.
- In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison asked his embassy in Washington to investigate after two members of a Channel Seven TV crew were assaulted by D.C. police. Videographer Tim Myers was pushed to the ground by a shield and punched while reporter Amelia Brace was hit with a baton. Both were hit by rubber bullets.
- Deutsche Welle, the German public broadcaster, entered a formal complaint with the U.S. Embassy over police threats made against its correspondent. DW reporter Stefan Simons is seen in a live shot wearing a shield marked “Press” and asks police to stand down, though the officers continue shooting rubber bullets at the DW Crew.
- Fahrettin Altun, Turkey’s communications director, raised press freedom concerns over the safety of two Turkish correspondents who were hit by projectiles covering the U.S. protests. Altun said he was given assurances by the Administration that it would monitor the situation. TRT, the Turkish public broadcaster, said its correspondents Sally Ayhan (Washington) and Lionel Donovan (Minneapolis) were both hit by rubber bullets in separate incidents. Altun was immediately accused of hypocrisy via social media as critics pointed to the fact that Turkey remains one of the world’s leading jailer of journalists with 47 imprisoned, according to the CPJ.
Covid-19 Update: 338 press freedom violations related to global pandemic. Governments around the world are leveraging Covid-19 to restrict the free flow of information among democratic and autocratic states. The global health crisis has enabled governments “to exercise control over the media on the pretext of preventing the spread of disinformation,” said a report by the International Press Institute in Vienna. The IPI has logged 338 press freedom violations since mid-February. The violations include arrests/charges, censorship, restricting access to information, verbal/physical attacks and excessive “fake news” regulation.
The Overseas Press Club invites everyone to join us in supporting global advocates for press freedom, free speech, and human rights.
They continue the fight to observe the timeless principles of press freedom; underscore the urgent need for reporter’s access to information; push back against attacks on the media amid the racial justice protests, and sound the call for the release of hundreds of imprisoned journalists worldwide.