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RSF highlights situation of journalists in countries deemed "diplomatic priorities" for new US administration

(RSF/IFEX) - The following is an abridged version of a 26 February 2009 RSF press release:

LETTER TO BARACK OBAMA AND HILLARY CLINTON AS US STATE DEPARTMENT ISSUES ANNUAL HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT

A day after the US State Department issued its annual report on human rights, Reporters Without Borders today released the text of its recent letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "The promotion of human rights is essential to our foreign policy," Clinton said in her preface to the report. This was not the case under the previous US administration and the Reporters Without Borders letter refers to the serious violations committed at home and abroad in the name of its "war on terror."

The Honorable Barack Hussein Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC, 20500

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC, 20520

Paris, February 17, 2009

Dear Mr. President:
Dear Madam Secretary of State

Reporters Without Borders, an international press freedom organization, would like to draw your attention to the situation of journalists in a number of countries now ranked as diplomatic priorities for the U.S. government. Mr. President, you appointed yourself to be the spokesperson in the fight for the right to inform and to be informed while visiting the Sudan in 2006, when you stated: "Press freedom is like tending a garden, it's never done." These words are somewhat reminiscent of those spoken by President Thomas Jefferson: "Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that limited without danger of losing it."

We consider it essential that the country of the First Amendment actively participate in promoting human rights within the international community, and especially in those regions of the planet in which these rights are being repeatedly violated. The executive order signed on January 22, 2009, which was aimed at putting an end to the humanitarian and legal scandal represented by the Guantanamo detention camp, sent, in our opinion, an important signal. Moreover, we are expecting the new Congress to finally approve a "shield law" guaranteeing journalists federal protection for the privilege of source confidentiality, thus sparing the latter from prison terms like those handed down under the previous administration-a period characterized by a decline in public freedoms. What is at stake is not only the preservation of a basic principle of investigative journalism, but also of the quality of information that the American public has a right to expect.

To read the letter in its entirety, see: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30405

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