May 17th, 2010
12:15 PM ET

Feds step up monitoring of global press freedom

President Barack Obama signed legislation Monday expanding the federal government's role in monitoring global freedom of the press.

Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, which requires a greater examination of the status of press freedoms in different countries in the State Department's Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

Among other things, the State Department will now be required to "identify countries in which there were violations of press freedom; determine whether the government authorities of those countries participate in ... or condone the violations; and report the actions such governments have taken to preserve the safety and independence of the media," according to a statement from Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, one of the bill's primary sponsors.

The measure is named for Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered by extremists in Pakistan shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Members of the Pearl family were in attendance when Obama signed the bill in the Oval Office.

"The horrific murder of Daniel Pearl that shocked the world also opened our eyes to the abuse and harassment that many journalists face, too often at the hands of government authorities. With this bill, we pay tribute to Daniel's life and his work by shedding a bright light on this repression, and hope to prevent this sort of tragedy from ever happening again," Dodd said in the statement.

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 811 journalists have been killed worldwide while doing their jobs since 1992, the year the organization started keeping track of such incidents. Most of the casualties have come in Iraq, where 142 members of the media have lost their lives.

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Filed under: Barack Obama
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Dan

    Glad to see Barry is right on top of the real important issues of the day. How about declaring "Smaller Government Day" or a "Day Without Taxes"?

    May 17, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. brazospete

    Yeah! Obama is a real leader on the subject of Free Speech!

    May 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. really?

    Can someone tell me why we care? Why are we spending our taxdollars on monitoring other countries? We have a great nation (which is why I'm a patriotic American no matter how silly whatever the current administration is) and it's a waste of our time and money to try and force other countries to be like us. Let's fix our own problems first!

    May 17, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sebastian Paul

    A corollary to the speech made by President Obama on the World Press Freedom Day last year. He expressed concern over threats against the media the world over. In every corner of the globe, there are journalists in jail or being actively harassed. Committee to Protect Journalists report that most of the casualties have come in Iraq, where 142 members of the media have lost their lives. Who is responsible?

    May 19, 2010 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |