US – RSF joins coalition of more than 100 organizations opposing DHS surveillance of journalists, activists and lawyers

May 1, 2019 – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) joined a coalition of more than 100 organizations in sending a letter to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on May 1 urging it to cease any targeting of journalists, activists and lawyers based on their First Amendment-protected speech and associational activities.

RSF and a coalition of 102 other organizations demanded that DHS address alarming reports of surveillance activity by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that jeopardizes First Amendment rights and access to legal counsel, and may violate the Privacy Act of 1974. The coalition also requested that DHS cease impermissible targeting, monitoring, and harassment of journalists, activists and lawyers at the border, and disclose the policies, guidelines, and training materials that govern these activities.

“RSF is honored to join this coalition of more than 100 civil society organizations expressing our concern with reports of the surveillance and targeting of journalists, as well as activists and lawyers, by DHS,” said Daphne Pellegrino, Advocacy Manager for RSF’s North America bureau.

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“We were dismayed to learn that suspicions from journalists suggesting they had been targeted by CBP for heightened border screening and device searches were based in fact. This conduct undermines the critical role journalists play as government watchdogs, and we eagerly anticipate a meeting with DHS to discuss our concerns as soon as possible.”

The United States ranks 48th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, after dropping three places since last year.