Today, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Mike Pence (R-IN), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press, issued the following statements following the enactment of the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act:
"Daniel Pearl's tragic death shocked the world and, at the same time, opened our eyes to the abuse and harassment that many journalists face across the globe. With this bill, we pay tribute to Daniel's life and his work by shining a spotlight on this sort of all-too-frequent repression," said Dodd. "It's an honor to be here today with so many members of Daniel's family--including his wife, Mariane, his son Adam, and his parents, Judea and Ruth--all of whom have done so much to keep alive Daniel's legacy and the importance of a free press."
"This legislation will help the United States work with other nations to better protect journalists working on the frontlines in the fight for greater accountability and transparency," Congressman Schiff said. "Freedom of expression cannot exist where journalists are not safe from persecution and attack. Our government must promote freedom of the press by putting on center stage those countries in which journalists are killed, imprisoned, kidnapped, threatened, or censored. Daniel Pearl's life was an inspiration to all of us, and I am glad the Pearl family could be present and share in today's ceremony."
"The Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act is named in honor of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in the months following the attacks of September 11, 2001," Congressman Pence said. "In every corner of the globe, journalists like Daniel Pearl are being silenced by intimidation, imprisonment or murder as they seek to bring to light information in the public interest. The Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act will result in a concerted effort to highlight and promote freedom of the press by including such reports in the State Department's Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices."
Senator Dodd and Rep. Schiff joined the Pearl family and President Obama at a bill signing ceremony, signing the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act into law. H.R. 3714, the House bill authored by Reps. Schiff and Pence that was signed into law by the President today, passed in the House of Representatives on December 16, 2009, and was agreed to in the Senate on April 29, 2010. The text of the legislation can be found here. The bill was championed by Senator Dodd, who introduced S. 1739, companion legislation to the bill in the Senate.
The Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act is named in honor of former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan, just four months after the September 11th attacks. Provisions in the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act will spotlight governments that seek to silence media opposition.
This legislation calls upon the Secretary of State to greatly expand its examination of the status of freedom of the press worldwide in the State Department's Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Specifically, the legislation requires the State Department to identify countries in which there were violations of press freedom; determine whether the government authorities of those countries participate in, facilitate, or condone the violations; and report the actions such governments have taken to preserve the safety and independence of the media and ensure the prosecution of individuals who attack or murder journalists.