Nepal’s media suffers from impunity and needs legal reform, says International Media Mission
Progress in promoting respect for media freedom has stalled, according to the participants of the International Fact Finding and Advocacy Media Mission, who left Nepal today after a 5 day visit. The mission focused on media related legal and policy reforms and on the impunity of crimes against media workers.
The mission recommended a review of the proposed text in the Draft Constitution related to freedom of expression and the media as well as the right to information. Mission members observed with concern that the proposals are weaker than in the 1990 Constitution and that their vague language may leave too much room for interpretation.
“We are pleased that most of the political leaders and members of the Constituent Assembly we met promised to open the discussion on these proposals in order to make the Constitution in line with international standards”, says Axel Plathe, the Head of UNESCO Office in Kathmandu, who was a part of the mission.
The mission also recommended to the Ministry of Information and Communication to consult stakeholders more broadly on its draft media policy. In addition the experts said that the recent classification of information should be withdrawn, and that a new process to revise the categories in line with the 2007 Right to Information Act should be initiated.
In order to bring impunity of crimes against media workers to an end, the mission called on the National Human Rights Commission to set up a high-level, independent task force in cooperation with other stakeholders with a mandate to investigate crimes against journalists and to work with authorities to ensure that legal actions against perpetrators are enforced.
The aim of the media mission, which visited Nepal for the seventh time since 2005, was to establish dialogue and give recommendations to the main stakeholders on current issues regarding Nepal’s media landscape The mission met with the Prime Minister, various line ministers and the Attorney General, the Chairperson and other members of the Constituent Assembly, political party leaders and representatives of human rights bodies, donors as well as media and civil society organizations.
The mission included representatives from AMARC, ARTICLE 19, the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the International News Safety Institute (INSI), the International Media Support (IMS), the International Press Institute (IPI), Internews, Open Society Foundations (OSF), Reporters sans frontières (RSF), the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) and UNESCO.