Today, President Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act into law, a bill that reinforces the nation’s commitment to ensure freedom of the press, including bloggers, around the world. The President described the act as upholding our “core values” and sending a strong signal to the world about journalistic rights.
The President was joined by members of the murdered journalist Daniel Pearl’s family, including his son Adam and his widow, Mariane. He thanked the Pearl family for their courage in ensuring that Pearl’s legacy of holding governments accountable lives on. The bill directs the State Department to record how press freedom operates in conjunction with our human rights assessment, and hold countries that facilitate press repression to world opinion. He explained that the bill sends a strong message from the U.S. government and State Department to other countries that America is paying attention to how press is operating around the world.
All around the world there are enormously courageous journalists and bloggers who, at great risk to themselves, are trying to shine a light on the critical issues that the people of their country face; who are the frontlines against tyranny and oppression. And obviously the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.
What this act does is it sends a strong message from the United States government and from the State Department that we are paying attention to how other governments are operating when it comes to the press. It has the State Department each year chronicling how press freedom is operating as one component of our human rights assessment, but it also looks at countries that are -- governments that are specifically condoning or facilitating this kind of press repression, singles them out and subjects them to the gaze of world opinion in ways that I think are extraordinarily important.