Amnesty International USA has taken up the call to drop charges against freelance journalist and ICMN contributor Jenni Monet, arrested in February while covering the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests at Standing Rock. The press freedom of Monet and jailed journalists in Turkey are among those being championed by Amnesty International on World Press Freedom Day, May 3.
“Reporters play a critical role in holding governments accountable for human rights abuses,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, in a statement calling for charges to be dropped against Monet. “Whether they are working in Turkey, Egypt, Mexico, the United States or anywhere else in the world, the press must be able to do their job.”
Monet was arrested on February 1 while covering the attempts of water protectors to establish a new camp across the road from the main camp, despite showing her press pass and obeying other instructions.
“It didn’t matter that I was complying with their instructions and it didn’t matter that they knew I was a member of the press. I was handcuffed and held in a chain link enclosure with 18 other women for hours,” Monet told Amnesty International. “There were times throughout my coverage when national interest would wane and I was the only reporter there. The authorities cannot prevent a story from being told by intimidating reporters with the threat of arrest.”
Monet still faces trespassing and rioting charges and has yet to be given a court date. Amnesty International USA has set up an online mechanism for sending a message to Allen Koppy, Morton County State Attorney.
“Ms. Monet’s arrest, detention and criminal charges display a blatant disregard for the rights of journalists,” the petition reads. “I urge you to use the power of your office to immediately drop all charges facing Jenni Monet.”
Amnesty has also called for an investigation into alleged human rights abuses against the water protectors themselves by militarized police during the months-long standoff.
World Press Freedom Day was established in 1993 by the United Nations with the goal of celebrating the fundamental principles of press freedom, assessing press freedom worldwide, defending the media’s independence and paying tribute to journalists who have died while carrying out their jobs.
“We need leaders to defend a free media. This is crucial to counter prevailing misinformation,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement. “And we need everyone to stand for our right to truth. On World Press Freedom Day, I call for an end to all crackdowns against journalists—because a free press advances peace and justice for all.”