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May 03, 2006

Schiff, Pence Launch Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press

Washington, D.C. - In honor of World Press Freedom Day, Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Mike Pence (R-IN) today kicked off a new bipartisan, bicameral caucus aimed at advancing press freedom around the world.  The Congressional Caucus for the Freedom of the Press, co-chaired by Reps. Schiff and Pence in the House and by Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) in the Senate, creates a forum to combat and condemn media censorship and the persecution of journalists around the world.

“A free and open press is vital to a healthy democracy.  Journalists should not have to work in fear of governments throwing them in jail or harming them or their families simply for doing their job,” Schiff said.  "By raising awareness of media censorship around the world, this caucus aims not only to protect journalists from persecution, but also to defend citizens' access to unfettered information.”
"Where there is no freedom of the press, there is no freedom,” Pence said.  “If America is to be a beacon of hope to the world, we must hold high the ideal of a free and independent press, advance it abroad and defend it at home. I am honored to associate myself with the men and women in Congress in both parties who advocate the freedom of the press for all of mankind.”

Although international law clearly guarantees freedom of expression and the right to a free press, these rights continue to be violated on a broad scale everyday.  In 2005, more that 65 journalist were killed, 1,300 physically attacked or threatened, and thousands imprisoned, just for doing their jobs.  In light of these increasing attacks on free expression and the lives of journalists, the Caucus will work to raise awareness of threats to press freedom and to journalists working in dangerous countries and conditions.

  • The Congressional Caucus for the Freedom of the Press will advance press freedom protect journalist through the following initiatives:
  • Convene experts to discuss the status of press freedom in “hot spot” countries to raise awareness of these issues among Members of Congress and the general public;
  • Acquire and assemble reports on the incidence and prevalence of media censorship and journalist mistreatment and the services and supports available to victims of persecution;
  • Initiate letters and petitions in support of organizations and campaigns for enhanced openness and tolerance in the press in order to advocate justice for murdered or imprisoned journalists;
  • Provide guidance to Congress and federal agencies on policies and actions related to press freedom at home and abroad
  • Recognize the courageous dedication of individual journalists who are reporting on important developments around the world, often at great personal and professional risk.

The following organizations welcomed the establishment of the Congressional Caucus for the Freedom of the Press: the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters without Borders, Freedom House, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Free Press, the Newspaper Association of America, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Daniel Pearl Foundation, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial.

Congressman Schiff is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles and is a member of both the House Judiciary and International Relations committees.  He represents California's 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.
Congressman Pence is in his third term in Congress, representing Indiana's 6th Congressional District.  He is a former radio talk show host and practicing attorney.  He serves on the Judiciary, International Relations and Agriculture Committee.