WASHINGTON, DC — Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) today introduced the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, legislation that would direct the State Department to include information relating to freedom of the press worldwide in annual country reports on human rights practices.
The legislation is named in honor of Wall Street Journal South Asia Bureau Chief Daniel Pearl, who in 2002 was kidnapped and brutally murdered by extremists in Pakistan. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 742 journalists have been killed on duty since the organization began tracking these crimes in 1992.
“The right to a free press is a right upon which we all rely. And every time a journalist is kept from doing his or her job, it is each of us whose right is being violated,” said Dodd, in a floor statement. “Whether they are print reporters, camera operators, editors, or bloggers, journalists across the world shed light on human rights abuses so that we may protect the victims of those crimes. This legislation, in turn, will help to shed light on crimes where these brave journalists themselves are the victims.”
In addition to requiring the Secretary of State to include reporting on the status of freedom of the press in the annual Human Rights Reports on Human Rights Practices, the legislation would also establish a grant program aimed at broadening and strengthening the independence of journalists and media organizations. A companion bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA-29).