Journalists’ Group to Receive Dodd Human Rights Prize

The Committee to Protect Journalists will be recognized for promoting press freedom worldwide.

<p>A bust of the late Sen. Thomas Dodd at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Photo by Peter Morenus</p>
A bust of the late Sen. Thomas Dodd at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Photo by Peter Morenus

The fourth biennial Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights will be awarded to the Committee to Protect Journalists during a ceremony at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center on Monday, Oct. 5.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1981 that promotes press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal.

The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on the Dodd Center plaza. Joel Simon, executive director of CPJ, will accept the award on behalf of the organization. Featured speakers will also include Sen. Christopher J. Dodd; Mariane Pearl, wife of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl; and University President Michael Hogan.

The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, named for the late U.S. Senator from Connecticut and father of the current Sen. Dodd, was dedicated in 1995 by President Bill Clinton. The $75,000 prize is given “to an individual or group that has made a significant effort to advance the cause of international justice and global human rights.”

The CPJ was selected for the prize by a committee representing the University, the advisory board of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, and representatives of the human rights community.

“The ability of the press to report the news fairly and freely is a right enshrined in the United States Constitution,” says Dodd. “Around the world, however, members of the press often face intimidation or even violent retaliation simply for reporting the truth. That’s why the mission of the Committee to Protect Journalists is so vital for the advancement of human rights and democracy worldwide. The CPJ deserves this honor for its accomplishments and dedication, and we owe it a debt of gratitude for its work on behalf of journalists across the globe.”

Betsy Pittman, director of the Dodd Center, says, “Supporting press freedom is an integral part in the promotion of human rights and democracy. We as citizens are entitled to the truth and knowledge that comes with freedom of the press, and we are honored to have the opportunity to award this distinguished prize to an organization whose mission is to ensure that press freedom is maintained worldwide.”

CPJ was founded by a group of U.S. foreign correspondents in response to the often brutal treatment of their foreign colleagues by authoritarian governments and other enemies of independent journalism. The organization has a full-time staff of 23 at its New York headquarters, including area specialists for each major world region as well as a Washington, D.C. representative and consultants stationed around the world. A 35-member board of prominent journalists directs CPJ’s activities.

By publicly revealing abuses against the press and by acting on behalf of imprisoned and threatened journalists, the organization effectively warns journalists and news organizations where attacks on press freedom are occurring. The committee organizes vigorous public protests and works through diplomatic channels to effect change. It also publishes articles and news releases, special reports, and Attacks on the Press, a comprehensive annual survey of press freedom around the world.

Past Dodd Prize recipients include British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, the Center for Justice & Accountability, and Mental Disability Rights International.

In addition to vast archival collections, the Dodd Center also houses UConn’s Human Rights Institute and the Center for Judaic Studies. Students can minor in or receive a graduate certificate in human rights. The University is also home to the Journal of Human Rights.

In case of rain, the event will be held in the Student Union Theatre.