US Congress

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Blog   |   Security, USA

State Department falls short in first Pearl Act reports

The State Department released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights this week. In preparing this year's reports, Foggy Bottom had to comply for the first time with the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act. Signed into law in May 2010, the Pearl Act requires descriptions, identifications, and assessments of press freedom conditions, including whether "severe violations" have occurred and "whether government authorities" have been complicit in press freedom violations. As I note in a blog in TheHill.com, though, the State Department's first attempt falls short, providing too little context and assessment.

April 15, 2011 5:23 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Lugar: Umar Cheema case a 'bellwether' for Pakistan

Gilani, right, with U.S. special representative Richard Holbrooke and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in July. (Reuters)

Sen. Richard Lugar, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, wrote to Pakistani Prime Minster Yousuf Raza Gilani on September 22 to express concern about the brutal attack on Umar Cheema. The journalist was abducted on the weekend of September 4-5 by men in black commando-style uniforms, who beat and humiliated him. It's a case I've written about repeatedly (you can find links here, here, here, here, here, and here). But the prime minister has not yet responded to Lugar's letter, which was delivered through the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

November 8, 2010 1:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, USA

U.S. proposals undermine secure, uncensored Internet

UPDATE, OCTOBER 22, 2010: CPJ's board of directors sets policy for the organization. At the October 18 meeting of the board, directors discussed the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, known as COICA.

The September 30 blog post below incorrectly stated that CPJ had "joined with other press freedom and civil liberty organizations and the Internet's pioneering engineers to urge the U.S. Senate to reject COICA in its current form." After discussion, the board determined that CPJ should take no position on the proposed legislation at this time. The matter was referred to the CPJ policy committee for further review.

A bill sponsored by Sens. Hatch, left, and Leahy could damage a free Internet. (AP file)

Blog   |   Saudi Arabia, UK, USA

U.S. Senate passes 'libel tourism' bill

This week, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill shielding journalists and publishers from “libel tourism.” The vote on Monday slipped past the Washington press corps largely unnoticed. Maybe it was the title that strove chunkily for a memorable acronym: the Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage (SPEECH) Act. Journalists and press freedom defenders outside the United States did, however, pay attention to the legislation, which they hope will spur libel law reform in their countries.

July 23, 2010 5:56 PM ET

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Blog   |   Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan

CPJ testimony: Threats to free media in the OSCE region

Kazakhstan, the current chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, has failed to live up to its press freedom commitments, CPJ’s Muzaffar Suleymanov told the Congressional Helsinki Commission in Washington today.

Blog   |   CPJ, Russia, USA

At Lantos commission, CPJ details Russian press climate

A bill pending in the Russian parliament would give state security alarming new censorship powers, CPJ’s Nina Ognianova told the Congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in testimony in Washington today. During a hearing on human rights issues in Russia, Ognianova also voiced concern about continued impunity in journalist murders. 

May 6, 2010 1:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   Gambia

Durbin, Senate colleagues press for Manneh’s release

Gambia Press Union

For more than two years, U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin and a group of Senate colleagues have been pressing for the release of Gambian journalist “Chief” Ebrima Manneh, left. In July 2006, security agents arrested Manneh at his workplace at the Daily Observer and have since held him incommunicado and without charge. On Thursday, Durbin and four other senators sent a letter to Kamalesh Sharma, secretary-general of the Commonwealth of Nations, urging him to launch an investigation into the case. 

March 19, 2010 10:15 AM ET

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Blog   |   Saudi Arabia, UK, USA

Free Speech Protection Act could slow 'libel tourism'

Free press advocates in Britain are looking to a bill stuck in the U.S. Congress for moral support in the fight to reform England’s draconian defamation laws. The U.S. bill, the Free Speech Protection Act 2009, is itself the product of those laws, which have made London the capital of “libel tourism.” 
November 16, 2009 10:57 AM ET

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Blog   |   Security

Daniel Pearl Act would shine light on overlooked abuses

This week CPJ congratulated the House sponsors of a bill that would expand the breadth and depth of the State Department's annual reporting to Congress on press freedom abuses worldwide. The Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act passed the House last month; now the bill is being redrafted for the Senate by the Committee on Foreign Relations. CPJ, in the July 8 letter to Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Mick Pence (R-IN), who are also co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press, urged the Senate to pass the legislation appropriately named after the late Wall Street Journal reporter.

July 10, 2009 2:39 PM ET

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Blog   |   North Korea, Security, Sri Lanka, USA

Schiff, Pence speak out for press freedom

"Information is power, which is
precisely why many governments attempt to control the press to suppress
opposition and preempt dissent," said U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the California
Democrat who three years ago founded the Congressional Caucus for Freedom of
the Press. "Far too often, the reporters and editors who demand reform,
accountability, and transparency find themselves at risk," he went on. "The
censorship, intimidation, imprisonment, and murder of these journalists are not
only crimes against these individuals, but they also impact those who are
denied access to their ideas and information."

May 5, 2009 3:24 PM ET

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