We met in the Roosevelt Room to discuss what FDR called “the human condition.” “I reiterated the president’s strong and unwavering commitment to the advancement of human rights and democracy around the world, including the right to choose one’s leaders, to speak one’s mind, to assemble freely, and to worship as one pleases,” read Gen. Jones’ statement on Human Rights Day.
I told the general and the assembled National Security Council directors how pleased CPJ was with Obama’s remarks on World Press Freedom Day in May about both unsolved journalist murders in many nations around the world, and the ongoing jailing of journalists in many other nations. (CPJ just released our imprisoned list for 2009, and half of the jailed journalists are online journalists and nearly half are freelancers.) I also volunteered that the POTUS’ recent granting of an exclusive interview to Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez shortly after she was beaten by state security agents was nothing less than a brilliant move.
But also I noted that the administration still
had more to do to advance human rights and press freedom. In particular, the
Obama administration needs to end the
No fewer than 14
journalists have been held behind bars without ever being charged in
CPJ has been long asking—since January when we sent then-President elect Obama a letter—the new administration to announce that it is ending the U.S. military practice of holding journalists without charging them, and to start with Jassam, by either releasing him or charging him with a crime. We can only wait and see how Gen. Jones might advise the president to handle the matter. If administration officials wanted to peg it to human rights, they still have time. Besides proclaiming December 10 Human Rights Day, President Obama also proclaimed the ensuing days Human Rights Week.