Today we are pleased to report that President Obama signed into law the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act.  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.  For those who follow our blog and our events, know that this past October we were honored to award the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) with the Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights.  The program allowed the University to learn more about the struggle for press freedom and about the work CPJ does to defend the rights of journalists around the world.   It also provided us with the opportunity to meet Mariane Pearl, wife of the late Daniel Pearl. 

President Obama and members of Daniel Pearl's family in the Oval Office. Photo by Luke Sharrett/The New York Times

 “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 Senator Chris Dodd, a champion of the bill.  Senator Dodd also introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

According to the press release from Senator Dodd’s office, 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.  The text of the legislation can be found here

President Obama was joined by Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Mike Pence (R-IN), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press, as well as members of Daniel Pearl’s family.