Introduction of the "Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act of 2009"
INTRODUCTION OF THE "DANIEL PEARL FREEDOM OF THE PRESS ACT OF 2009"
HON. ADAM B. SCHIFF
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Mr. SCHIFF. Madam Speaker, I rise today to introduce the "Daniel
Pearl Freedom of the Press Act of 2009"--legislation to highlight and
promote freedom of the press worldwide.
In early 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was
kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan, just four months
after 9/11. Lured from his apartment, Daniel was on his way to
interview a Muslim fundamentalist when he was captured. Just two days
before his abduction, Daniel had learned that his wife Mariane was
expecting a baby boy. Although four of the kidnappers were convicted in
July of 2002, seven other suspects, including those who allegedly
helped murder Daniel Pearl, remain at large.
Despite international outrage over this brutal murder, freedom of the
press has continued to decline on a global scale.
In 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, one of Russia's most prominent
journalists, was shot dead in her apartment building. The investigative
journalist, well known for her critical reports of the Kremlin's
actions in Chechnya, is widely believed to be the victim of a
politically motivated contract killing. Anna Politkovskaya was the 13th
Russian journalist murdered during President Vladimir Putin's
administration. One month ago, a jury in Moscow acquitted three men
charged with her murder.
Just two weeks ago, on March 17th, 2009, two American journalists
were detained by the North Korean authorities while reporting on the
plight of North Korean refugees in China. North Korea has accused the
reporters of illegally entering North Korea from China and has stated
the journalists will be indicted and tried for suspected hostile acts.
Acts of violence against journalists continue to rise in frequency,
with very few of the attacks resulting in prosecution. According to the
Committee to Protect Journalists, in 2008 at least 41 journalists were
killed in connection with their work, and 125 were imprisoned. As the
level of violence directed at the press continues to rise, so too does
the side effect of self-censorship. Legal mechanisms are also
increasingly being used to restrict the media, both through overt
censorship and through the use of laws that forbid "endangering
national security" or "inciting hatred" by commenting on sensitive
or anti-government topics.
Freedom of expression cannot exist where journalists and the media
are not independent and 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. Therefore, together with my colleague
Congressman Pence, I am introducing legislation which calls upon the
Secretary of State to submit an annual report of on the status of
freedom of the press worldwide, bringing attention to those
governments, extremists, and criminal groups which seek to silence
To further this effort, my legislation also establishes a grant
program aimed at broadening and strengthening the independence of
journalists and media organizations. Too often media assistance
programs are short-term, ranging from one year projects to weekend
workshops, and are buried as a second thought under broader human
rights programs. The Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act of 2009 will
give prominence to freedom of the press projects within the State
Department, and ensure a long-term, holistic approach to journalist and
Please join me in this effort to promote freedom of the press