National consultations make recommendations for effective mechanism for journalists’ safety
Nepal needs an effective national mechanism to help increase the safety of journalists and address the issue of impunity of acts of violence against them, said the participants of a national consultation last week in Lalitpur, which the UNESCO Kathmandu Office and the Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC) organized. The consultation concluded a series of five regional consultations to reach agreement on the best framework for protecting journalists and free expression in Dhangadhi, Nepalgunj, Pokhara, Hetauda and Biratnagar last month.
The consultations were organized to support the efforts of the National Human Rights Commission to establish a nationally owned mechanism for the protection of free expression.
Participants suggested establishing a special security programme for the safety of journalists including compensation for the victims. They also recommended that the proposed mechanism include a fast track provision to address rapidly cases of violence against journalists and that the mechanism be extended to regional and local levels including representatives of Dalits, Janajatis and other minority groups. There should also be an investigation as to how the code of conduct is being implemented. Participants also recommended that the group governing the mechanism should meet at least once each month and more, if necessary. Another recommendation highlighted the need to address the special security concerns of women journalists.
The consultations were part of the UNESCO project “ Increasing the safety of journalists” , which has as one of its key objectives to establish a nationally owned mechanism for coordinating and addressing threats to free expression, including the safety of individuals and groups, who are targeted for their speeches. The mechanism is to be established in line with the ‘UN Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity’ and aligns with the principles and guidelines that will be adopted for a multi-stakeholder participatory implementation.
The overall objective of the consultation was to seek suggestions from the stakeholders including journalists, human rights defenders, security and judicial institutions to reach agreement on the best framework to be established to protect journalists and free expression. More than forty experts participated in the Lalitpur consultations, including representatives of the National Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Information and Communications, key stakeholder groups, including journalists from print, broadcast and online media, media entrepreneurs, and human rights defenders, and security sector institutions and representatives of the judiciary.
In the consultation Laxman Datt Pant, project coordinator of the project ‘Increasing the Safety of Journalists’ presented an overview of the project and its support to proposed mechanism, while Yam Bahadur Dura of National Human Rights Commission and Binod Bhattarai of International Media Support shed light on the proposed mechanism. Madan Paudel of INSEC highlighted regional recommendations. Shiva Gaunle, president of Federation of Nepali Journalists, Subodh Raj Pyakurel, president of INSEC, Sharmila Karki, president of NGO federation, Laxman Humagain, General Manager of Nepal Television, inspector Bashundhara Khadka of Human Rights Cell of Nepal Police, Raghu Mainali of AMARC, Chhatra Shankar of Human Rights Journalists’ Association (HURJA), Rajesh Chamling of Gorkhapatra, Pankaj Das of Madheshi Journalists’ Association spoke on different issues related to free expression and safety of journalists.
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