H.R. 1861 (111th): Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act of 2009

111th Congress, 2009–2010. Text as of Apr 01, 2009 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

I

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1861

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

April 1, 2009

(for himself and Mr. Pence) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

A BILL

To highlight and promote freedom of the press worldwide.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act of 2009.

2.

Findings; purpose

(a)

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

Acts of violence against journalists and media personnel continue to rise in frequency, with very few of the attacks resulting in prosecution.

(2)

According to the 2008 Annual Report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, in 2008 at least 41 journalists were killed in connection with their work, and 125 were imprisoned.

(3)

Reflecting the rise in influence of Internet reporting, an increasing number of online editors, bloggers, and web-based reporters are being imprisoned and websites are being closed because of official censorship.

(4)

The United States and the international community agree that the safety and independence of journalists and the media are a matter of pressing international concern. On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers..

(b)

Purposes

The purposes of this Act are to—

(1)

highlight and promote the work and accomplishments of journalists and media organizations that promote freedom of opinion and expression worldwide;

(2)

draw attention to the conditions in countries in which journalists are killed, imprisoned, kidnapped, threatened, or censored;

(3)

offer protection for these individuals and media organizations by identifying to the international community those countries where journalists are at the highest risk; and

(4)

emphasize the significance of including freedom of the press as enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a factor in United States foreign policy.

3.

Annual report on the promotion of freedom of the press worldwide

(a)

Report

The Secretary of State shall annually submit to Congress a report regarding the promotion of freedom of the press worldwide. The report shall be entitled the Annual Report on the Status of Freedom of the Press Worldwide.

(b)

Preparation

The Secretary shall prepare the Annual Report with the assistance of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

(c)

Contents

The Annual Report shall contain the following information:

(1)

A description of the status of freedom of the press in each country, including initiatives in favor of freedom of the press and efforts to improve or preserve, as appropriate, the independence of the media, together with an assessment of progress made as a result of those efforts.

(2)

An identification of countries in which there were violations of freedom of the press, including direct physical attacks, imprisonment, indirect sources of pressure, and censorship by governments, military, intelligence, or police forces, criminal groups, or armed extremist or rebel groups.

(3)

In countries where there are particularly severe violations of freedom of the press, the annual report shall address the following:

(A)

Whether government authorities of each such country participate in, facilitate, or condone such violations of the freedom of the press.

(B)

What steps the government of each such country has taken to preserve the safety and independence of the media, and to ensure the prosecution of those individuals who attack or murder journalists.

(d)

Organization

The Annual Report shall be organized in three parts, as follows:

(1)

Part I shall consist of the identification of countries (and the associated assessment of their efforts) under subsection (c)(1).

(2)

Part II shall consist of the identification of countries (and the associated assessment of their efforts) under subsection (c)(2).

(3)

Part III shall consist of the identification of countries (and the associated assessment of their efforts) under subsection (c)(3).

(e)

Time for submission

The Secretary shall submit the Annual Report on May 3 of each year, declared by the United Nations General Assembly as World Press Freedom Day, or the first day thereafter on which either House of Congress is in session.

(f)

Unclassified form

The Annual Report shall be submitted in unclassified form.

4.

Freedom of the press grant program

(a)

In general

The Secretary of State shall administer a grant program with the aim of promoting freedom of the press worldwide. The grant program shall be administered by the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor as part of the Human Rights Democracy Fund (HRDF).

(b)

Amounts and time

Grants may be awarded to nonprofit and international organizations in amounts ranging from $70,000 to $150,000 annually. Grants may span multiple years, up to five years.

(c)

Purpose

Grant proposals should promote and broaden press freedoms by strengthening the independence of journalists and media organizations, promoting a legal framework for freedom of the press, or through providing regionally and culturally relevant training and professionalization of skills to meet international standards in both traditional and digital media.

5.

Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of State $2,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 to 2014 to carry out this Act.

6.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Annual report

The term Annual Report means the Annual Report on the Status of Freedom of the Press Worldwide required under subsection (a).

(2)

Media organization

The term media organization means a group or organization that gathers and disseminates news and information to the public (through any medium of mass communication) in a foreign country in which the group or organization is located, except that the term does not include a group or organization that is primarily an agency or instrumentality of the government of such foreign country. The term includes an individual who is an agent or employee of such group or organization who acts within the scope of such agency or employment.

(3)

Secretary

The term Secretary means the Secretary of State.