State agencies' compliance to FoE instruments needs strengthening
A need to boost the compliance of the state agencies to the national and international instruments on the freedom of expression (FoE) has been pointed out in different three districts of the central terai of Nepal.
The stakeholders speaking at the dialogues conducted by the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu in association with the Freedom Forum in Chitwan, Parsa and Dhanusha districts between 9 to 14 February 2014 stressed on making the security bodies more responsible to protect journalists' rights and people's freedom of expression.
However, the officials representing the security bodies, administration, judiciary, human rights and civil society urged the journalists to abide by their code of conduct to reduce the violation of their rights.
The events were organized under the UNPFN / UNESCO Project Increasing the Safety of Journalists to raise awareness in the districts among government police and judicial officials and engage them in dialogue to advocate for justice and protection of free expression and for safety of journalists.
It is noticeable that a pre- survey conducted before the consultations on the perception level of national and international instruments of FoE among the state agencies has shown that very few officials were aware about journalists' rights and legal provisions on FoE and safety of journalists. The respondents (officials from the security and judiciary) have said the role of security bodies was more important to protect FoE.
Similarly, during the dialogues conducted in Chitwan, Parsa and Dhanusha districts, the officials from the security bodies and judiciary, and representatives Federation of Nepali journalists, rights defenders and civil society representatives stressed on making security bodies more responsible towards people's FoE in addition to the safety of journalists. They also said that better coordination among the security bodies, administration and right defenders could minimize violation of press freedom and FoE.
In the dialogues, the officials from the state agencies made commitment that they would fully respect FoE and press freedom to nurture democratic practice. The three consultations were attended by more than 100 persons including district judges, chiefs of the district police offices, representatives of the Ministry of Information and Communications from the district postal offices, journalists and rights activists.
Laxman Datt Pant, Coordinator of the UNPFN/UNESCO project “Increasing the Safety of Journalists”, Taranath Dahal, President of the Freedom Forum and DharmendraJha, General –Secretary of the Freedom Forum facilitated the consultations with separate presentations on status and strategies of the project, principles and practices of freedom of expression and the safety situation of journalists across the country.
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