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Trumping free expression

In the lead-up to this week's election, members of the IFEX network cautioned voters about the potential harm Donald Trump could do in office. Today as the world contemplates the future with President-elect Trump, IFEX members are reflecting on what a Trump presidency will mean for freedom of the press and other human rights.

The cover of the New York Post newspaper is seen with other papers at a newsstand in New York U.S., 9 November 2016
The cover of the New York Post newspaper is seen with other papers at a newsstand in New York U.S., 9 November 2016

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Leading up to Tuesday night's election results, members of the IFEX network based both in the U.S. and internationally cautioned voters about the potential harm Donald Trump could do in office. The board of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) made an extraordinary move by passing a resolution that declared Trump “an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists and to CPJ's ability to advocate for press freedom around the world.” On Election Day, CPJ went further by tweeting tips for journalists covering election night.

Other groups, like Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the International Press Institute (IPI) condemned the way members of the press were treated at Trump campaign events and were attacked over critical coverage.

Today as the world contemplates the future with President-elect Donald Trump, IFEX members are reacting to the news and reflecting on what a Trump presidency will mean for freedom of the press and other human rights.

“Trump’s actions to restrict the free press during his presidential campaign have sent a worrying signal about his intentions in the presidency," said Christophe Deloire, RSF Secretary-General. "As president, we call on him to ensure respect for press freedom and free speech under the First Amendment. The press must be able to carry out its work without fear of reprisal from a hostile White House.”

Article 19

“ARTICLE 19 calls on President-elect Donald Trump, his administration, and Congress, to uphold the core United States value of freedom of expression and maintain the important and long-standing role of the United States in protecting this right internationally,” said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19, in a statement. “The values of the United States Constitution are reflected in international human rights law, which the United States has long championed around the world. President-elect Trump must recommit to uphold these values both at home and abroad in this time of heightened global uncertainty,” Hughes continued.

"Trump has an opportunity to put his often-abhorrent campaign rhetoric behind him and place human rights at the center of his domestic and international policies. He should recognize that US government credibility in promoting rights, good governance, and the rule of law cannot be fully realized unless the US government itself demonstrates a better record on issues like the rights of women and children, criminal justice, Guantanamo, drone strikes outside conventional war zones, and justice for torture," reads the Human Rights Watch statement.

“PEN America stands ready to play our essential role of defending free expression, elevating marginalized voices, and fostering dialogue across boundaries here at home and around the world,” said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN America.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

In a pledge to continue defending civil liberties after the results of the election, EFF stated:

"Many have contacted us with concerns about yesterday’s election results. At this critical moment, we want digital civil liberties supporters worldwide to feel confident that EFF remains steadfast in its mission and method: to use law and technology to champion civil liberties and provide a potent check against overreach."

Commenting on the ramifications of the election on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President-elect Trump does not support:

"We're calling it: today is the day the TPP died. Nevertheless, the battle against the deal is not over. Why not? Because the other TPP countries are still in the process of passing their implementing legislation, which contains all of the worst measures in the TPP that we have been fighting against for the last six years—including the extension of the term of copyright, the strict rules against DRM circumvention, the tough criminal penalties against those who infringe copyright or who leak trade secrets, and the prohibition against mandates to review source code for bugs and backdoors."

Privacy International

"The US now faces a time of uncertainty with a new President. How will he use those powers? If he abuses them, will governments everywhere follow his lead?

The international community of rights organisations has its work cut out for it. Just as we demand our constitutions can withstand populist politics, we must ensure that our governments are building laws, safeguards, and protections into systems that are able to weather changing political agendas," said the organisation in their statement.

Freedom House

In a statement examining what Trump’s victory could mean for Europe and Eurasia, the organisation noted:

"President-elect Donald J. Trump’s attitudes toward the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Russia were at the heart of the campaign’s foreign policy debates. Staking out positions that put him at odds with the American political, diplomatic, and military establishments, he suggested withdrawing from the treaty if members did not contribute more; cast doubt on his willingness to uphold Article V, the treaty’s collective defense obligation; and repeatedly praised President Vladimir Putin of Russia."

Global Voices

In an article entitled "The Bizarre and historic US presidential election," Global Voices states that Trump has based much of his campaign on singling out the "other":

"In response to violence like the San Bernadino mass shooting, he called for 'a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on' — which many legal experts think would be unconstitutional. He claimed he remembered seeing thousands of Muslims in the United States celebrating the 9/11 attacks, which local police say didn't happen."

World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

"Trump’s campaign was remarkable in many ways, but one element that stands out was the anti-media sentiment that it nourished. Brian Stelter argued on CNN that Trump used the news media, 'while at the same time running a vicious anti-media crusade' from day one. The mistrust of media has reached all-time low in the US, and Trump succeeded in taking advantage of this. For the future the question will be, to what extent this hostile attitude towards the media will persist during the presidency," reads a statement by WAN-IFRA.

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