President Barack Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act on Monday (May 17). The law was named for the former Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered in 2002 while covering Islamic extremists in Pakistan.
The law requires the State Department to report annually on the state of press freedom worldwide and develop a grant program to help strengthen media independence.
"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," said the president before signing the bill. "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."
The State Department is also charged with identifying countries specifically condoning "press repression." "Oftentimes without this kind of attention," said the president, "countries and governments feel that they can operate against the press with impunity. And we want to send a message that they can’t."
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