The Los Angeles Press Club continues to extend its support for the family of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered in Pakistan in 2002. This tragedy is foremost a human one, as no person and no family should ever endure such a heinous crime nor the insult of such a slow response. However, this tragedy is also an affront to the press, and by extension, the rights of the people of Pakistan and beyond. An informed public needs journalism, and journalists need to be able to operate without the threat of bodily harm or death. We call on the authorities in Pakistan to enforce the law and defend human rights, not only in letter but in spirit. If they are unable to do so, we call on them to extradite anyone involved for an open and fair trial.
Allowing Pearl’s convicted murderer to go free means that journalists are fair game and that Pakistan sanctions this type of murder. The consequences for Pakistan and other countries disregarding human lives will be increased scrutiny by international news organizations and the conscience of the world.
Daniel Pearl, journalist, author, and gifted musician, is remembered as a symbol of hope and a man who built bridges between diverse cultures. The L.A. Press Club has honored his memory every year with the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism, presented by Daniel’s father Judea Pearl. Among those honored with the award are Nima Elbagir, Raif Badawi, Jason Rezaian, Charlie Hebdo, Sandra Rodriguez Nieto, Richard Engel, Bob Woodruff, Anna Politkovskaya, James Nachtwey, and Michael Weisskopf.
“When a killer is behind bars, responsibility is absorbed by one deranged individual. When a killer is freed, society as a whole assumes responsibility for the crime. Today, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has handed an indictment to an entire nation, institutionally, culturally, and morally, for one of the most horrific crimes of the century, which forever will stain the moral standing of that nation. We urge the U.S. Department of Justice to vigorously pursue a request for extraditing Omar Schiek to stand a trial in the U.S., and we hope Pakistan responds positively to such request, to rectify the injustice brought about today by two of the three judges,” Judea Pearl said.
— L.A. Press Club Board of Directors