Journalists urge for an in-depth study into FoE laws in Nepal
The journalists of western and far western region have urged for an in-depth study and analysis into the national laws concerning freedom of expression (FoE). They urged for such study and revision into FoE laws during two separate interaction programs among journalists of western and far western regions organized by the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu in association with the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and the Human Rights Journalists Association (HURJA) from May 12 to 15, 2014. The seminars were organized to develop a national action plan for the ‘Efficient Implementation of Freedom of Expression (FoE) Laws in Nepal’.
About 100 journalists and people with the knowledge of laws related to FoE, were present at the seminars. The participants were well-versed in constitutional provisions related to FoE, RTI, press freedom, and among them were districts chapter presidents of sixteen districts of western region and nine districts of far western region. The stakeholders deliberated on the ways to facilitate the effective and efficient implementation of FoE laws in Nepal.
The seminar that took place in Pokhara on May 12 was attended by total of 56 journalists from sixteen districts of the western region including 12 women whereas the seminar organized in Mahendranagar on May 15 was attended by a total of 42 journalists including three women from nine districts of far western region.
The seminars were facilitated by Mahendra Bista, FNJ president, Laxman Datt Pant, Coordinator of ‘Safety of Journalists Project’ and JB Biswokarma, Coordinator of ‘Right to Information Project’ with separate presentations each on FoE laws and media regulations in Nepal, safety of journalists and right to information .
Bista clarified the participants on range of issues concerning FoE including the principles of free press and freedom of expression, constitutional and legal provisions, limitations of the free speech, media laws and regulations in Nepal with way forward on developing national action plan for the efficient implementation of the FoE laws in Nepal. Pant shed light on the issues concerning safety of journalists with its links to FoE including the issue of impunity, safety indicators and national initiatives for the protection of media, whereas Biswokarma highlighted right to information act and its implementation as a tool of FoE.
The seminars concluded with separate declarations for the effective implementation of the FoE laws in Nepal. Mahendranagar declaration announced by president of FNJ Kanchanpur chapter Laxman Tiwari recommends implementing existing FoE laws and amending them as necessary to make them media friendly, to fulfill social responsibility of media as a voice of voiceless, and to make clear policy for the investment in media, to implement working journalists act and journalists’ code of ethics. It also suggests disassociating journalists from partisan journalism, to guarantee social security of journalists and amend long term policy of media houses. Other recommendations include determining qualification for journalists and addressing impunity in the cases of media rights violation that took place in decade long conflict to evade self-censorship.
Similarly, FNJ Kaski chapter president Ram Krishna Gyanwali announced Pokhara declaration. The recommendations urge for creating free and fair environment for journalists to fulfill their social responsibility, to amend current communication policy, and to prioritize local media needs within such policy. The declaration also suggests for an in-depth study and analysis into the national laws concerning FoE to see whether such laws are in line with international standards and practice.
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