International Media Mission: Progress in Nepal’s media freedom is too slow
Nepal needs more legal and policy reforms to ensure media freedom and must better ensure the safety of journalists by getting rid of the culture of impunity of violence against them. These are the main findings of the recently released report of the International Media Mission visiting Nepal in February 2012. The report entitled Safeguarding media rights and ending impunity in Nepal covers the findings and recommendations of the mission, based on meetings with a wide range of stakeholders.
“Broad engagement and commitment is needed to secure the development of a sound media situation in Nepal, as the progress seen so far has been too slow”, says Axel Plathe, Head of UNESCO Office in Kathmandu, who participated in the mission.
Since 2006, concrete actions have only been seen in two areas, namely amendments to the Working Journalists’ Act and the adoption of the Right to Information Act, both in 2007.
The report presents concerns that the implementation of the Working Journalists’ Act remains inadequate. It highlights the need for media outlets to sign secure employment agreements with journalists and to pay wages that are set pursuant to the law. Equally important is that Government enforces the law where owners and employers do not do so voluntarily.
The report calls for relevant actors to work together to address the media freedom needs of Nepal in an efficient way. In the priority area of law and policy reform, the mission report highlights three areas where actions are needed. Firstly, there is need for strengthening of proposed constitutional guarantees.
The International Media Mission (IMM) undertook a study of three proposals, namely the freedoms of expression, of the media and of information, results showing that none meet with international standards. Secondly, the report emphasizes the development of an inclusive media policy in cooperation with relevant media stakeholders. Thirdly, the report highlights the importance of open access to information.
The IMM, which undertook its seventh mission to Nepal since 2005, released the mission report on the day before the deadline for the new constitution that was due 27 May 2012. The Constituent Assembly failed to reach agreement on several key issues related to the structuring of the state, and was immediately after the deadline dissolved by Prime Minister Bhattarai.
The IMM team met with a broad range of stakeholders, such as Prime Minister Bhattarai, political party leaders, human rights bodies, donors, media and civil society organizations. The IMM to Nepal is an alliance of 14 international organizations - AMARC, ARTICLE 19, Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International News Safety Institute (INSI), International Media Support (IMS), International Press Institute (IPI), Internews, Open Society Foundations (OSF), Reporters sans Frontières (RSF), South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) and UNESCO.
Download the full report