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New Daniel Pearl Act to Spotlight Violations of Press Freedom

July 10, 2009

The murder of Wall St. Journal reporter Daniel Pearl made headlines worldwide, but many other crimes against journalists go unreported and unnoticed. Now, with the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act that was passed by the House last week, the U.S. State Department will play a larger role in identifying crimes against journalists.

The U.S. government will now investigate and identify countries with violations of press freedom and highlight those that participate in, facilitate, or condone violations of press freedom. It will become the State Department’s duty to investigate imprisonment, direct censorship, and physical attacks against journalists.

The Committee to Protect Journalists points out just how many violations and murders occur across all corners of the world, with most of us never finding out about them.

“How many people have heard of, say, Uma Singh, a Nepalese radio reporter and women’s rights activist who was stabbed to death this year in January by about 15 unidentified assailants in her home, or of Eliseo Barrón Hernández, a Mexican newspaperman who was beaten by hooded gunmen in May in front of his family before being abducted to have his tortured corpse discovered the next day, or of Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe, a Somali radio reporter who was shot repeatedly in the head last month by unknown gunmen as he and a colleague, who was also wounded, were walking to work,” writes Frank Smyth of the CPJ.

At least 532 journalists have been murdered while reporting and according to CPJ, nearly 9 out of ten of the murders get away with it.

Photo: The Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.