In an unprecedented show of international solidarity, WAN-IFRA members from over 40 countries have written to US President Donald Trump to denounce recent violence against journalists covering protests in the country. The joint letter calls for perpetrators to be brought to justice and urges President Trump “to forcefully condemn these attacks and show unwavering support for a free press.”
The letter, initiated by WAN-IFRA President Fernando De Yarza Lopez-Madrazo and World Editors Forum President Warren Fernandez, is co-signed by 20 national member associations and 45 individual publishers, CEOs, Editors-in-Chief and senior media executives from around the world.
It calls for thorough investigations into over 400 attacks on media professionals reported to the US Press Freedom Tracker – a non-partisan online resource that documents press freedom violations in the United States – related to coverage of nationwide protests against police brutality and in support of social justice following the death of George Floyd in police custody.
“If justice is to be delivered, if the nation is to address the historic failures at the root of these latest protests and begin the long process of healing, then citizens, policymakers and law enforcement officials need reliable independent information to assist them in this process. Journalists need to operate freely and in safety, without fear of attack,” the letter says.
The letter urges President Trump to carefully consider his power to influence action and opinion, both at home and abroad, and to find the appropriate language that will stem the violence and protect journalists from further attack.
Reminding the president of Constitutional guarantees protecting the freedom of the press and that is admired across the globe, the letter urges President Trump to reaffirm the United States’ historical commitment to a free press clearly and unambiguously so that it is heard across the country and may resonate around the world.
Attacks against journalists must stop. Attacks already perpetrated need to be investigated to the full extent of the law, and the press must be free to carry out its essential role safely and without fear of reprisal.
Read the full letter here.