How to seek justice, for journalists and for all

Updated 1:50 PM ET, Thu November 16, 2017

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Diane and John Foley are the parents of American conflict journalist James W. Foley, who was kidnapped while reporting in Syria, tortured and killed by ISIS. Diane Foley is founder and president and John Foley is on the board of the James W. Foley Foundation, which advocates for the safe return of all Americans detained abroad and the protection of independent conflict journalists. The views expressed in this commentary are their own. This is the next installment in the CNN Opinion series on the challenges facing the media, under attack from critics, governments and changing technology.

(CNN)The UN estimates that over the last decade, more than 900 journalists, including our son, James W. Foley, have been killed for bringing news to the public. Sadly, only one in 10 of these cases has led to a conviction.

Also kidnapped in 2012 and 2013 were American journalists Austin Tice and Steven Sotloff, as well as humanitarian aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. After nearly two years of torture and starvation, Jim was publicly beheaded by his ISIS captors in 2014. The deaths in captivity of Steven, Peter and Kayla followed. Austin's whereabouts remain unknown.
Americans are increasingly being targeted while working and traveling abroad. Of the 90 Western hostages murdered since 2001, 41 were American citizens.
Diane Foley and John Foley
Jim was passionate about press freedom and human rights. He understood that true investigative journalism gives voice to those oppressed by war, poverty and inequity -- and that such journalism is essential to our freedom.
Jim aspired to be a man of moral courage. He challenges us daily to aspire to make this a better world.
We call on all Americans to have the moral courage to expect justice for those who seek to destroy the best of America, our free press and our compassion for those not free.
    The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation seeks to make the safe return of our citizens detained or kidnapped abroad a national priority. It also collaborates with other organizations to find ways to protect the vulnerable and increasing numbers of independent conflict journalists and to educate Americans regarding these threats to our freedom.
    The Foley Foundation works with our government to urge the return of all Americans in captivity and collaborates with others to create A Culture of Safety alliance, or ACOS. ACOS is a historical alliance of media companies, press freedom nonprofits and freelance journalists to protect the increasing number of independent conflict journalists.
    It has created an online curriculum for schools of journalism that stresses risk assessment, safety training and digital security, and raises awareness of these very real threats to our Western free societies.
    We are heartened by the 2015 Presidential Policy Directive-30 that established the White House Hostage Response Group, the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell and Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. These dedicated groups work together to strategize the freeing of Americans kidnapped abroad.
    The Hostage Response Group is led by a special assistant to President Trump and Tom Bossert, senior director for counterterrorism, while the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell is an interagency operational group for the recovery of US national hostages abroad, led by the FBI Special Agent Robert Saale. The Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs senior position remains vacant, though acting envoy Julia Nesheiwat continues diplomatic outreach.
    We applaud the Trump White House for securing the release of Aya Hijazi from Egypt, Caitlan Coleman from Pakistan, and Otto Warmbier from North Korea; but urgently request the naming of a special presidential envoy for hostage affairs to augment diplomatic efforts for long-held Americans such as Austin Tice (held since 2012) and Robert Levinson (since 2007).
    It has now been three long years since Jim's brutal murder. We await justice for him. We are told to trust that our government is working to bring Jim's captors to justice. Yet no attorney has been named to prioritize the search for justice. On a recent call with our FBI field agent and Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell family engagement person, we were told that despite the freeing of Raqqa and Mosul from ISIS control, there is no new information regarding Jim's captors.
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    We are heartened that ISIS has been largely defeated in Iraq and Syria. However, we fear that our government's eagerness for vengeance will obliterate any chance to identify those responsible for the terror inflicted on innocent Syrian and Iraqi civilians, or the murders of our four brave Americans.
      Only Jim's executioner, Mohammed Emwazi, or "Jihadi John," has been identified and killed by a drone stri