UNESCO discusses Safety of Journalists in Eastern Region
UNESCO in collaboration with the Dhankuta chapter of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) organized a regional kick-off meeting and discussion programme on its new two-year project aimed at increasing the safety of journalists and ending impunity on 15 July 2013 in Dhankuta.
The programme was organized to apprise on ‘Increasing the Safety of Journalists’, a new initiative aimed at improving the security situation of media professionals by a multi-level approach based on the comprehensive framework of the “UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity”.
Funded with a budget of USD 566,500 by the United Nations Peace Fund for Nepal (UNPFN), the project aims to contribute to the establishment of sustainable peace and the rule of law by helping protect the freedom of expression.
“Continuous aggression against journalists and media persons and the impunity in many cases of press freedom violations and violence against journalists continue to threaten the still fragile peace process”, said Axel Plathe, UNESCO Representative to Nepal and the Head of UNESCO Office in Kathmandu in the regional kick-off meeting of the project.
“The situation is particularly worrying in two parts of the country; in the Central Terai and here, in the hill districts of the Eastern Region. This is the main reason, why we are here today and why, more importantly, the main part of our project activities will be implemented in this part of the country,” Plathe added.
Shiva Gaunle, president of the FNJ said that practicing good journalism helps resolve conflict. “Only the balanced presentation of the stories can help in establishing long term peace in the country,” he added. He also urged journalists to take care of the thing that they are not privileged to any special rights.
Rameshor Dangal, Chief District Officer of Dhankuta said that his office is ready to support the journalists in minimizing threat against them. He added “No journalists should be threatened for merely practicing right to freedom of expression”. He also urged journalists to abide by code of ethics.
Shambhu Khadka, acting chief-justice at the Apex Court in Dhankuta, said that the judiciary is ready to assist journalists in judicial remedy on any cases of the violation of press freedom. He thanked UNESCO for including activities for the judicial bodies within the project. “It makes me unhappy seeing journalists coming into ‘accused box’ and I request all stakeholders to respect the code of conduct so as to make journalism a responsible profession”, he added.
Rohit Dangi, president of Nepal Bar Association at Apex Court in Dhankuta, said that the project will be crucial in minimizing the cases of media freedom violation. He also praised journalists for being in forefront in the country during major changes for the cause of strengthening democracy.
Chief of the Dhankuta district police SP Surya Prasad Upadhayay, DSP of Armed Police Force Krishna Dhakal and Major of Nepali Army Bimal KC were also present in the programme.
In the second half of the day, a separate discussion session was organized to highlight the key components and activities of the project. Laxman Datt Pant, project coordinator at UNESCO moderated the session where he also highlighted the key activities of the Journalists’ Safety Project to be implemented during two years.
Siddha Raj Rai, central committee member of the FNJ presented the context and situation of journalists’ safety in Eastern region, while Nilifa Subba, Eastern regional coordinator of Sancharika Samuha highlighted the safety situation of woman journalists in the region. Likewise INSEC Dhankuta district representative Santosh Ruchal presented overall human rights situation in the region.
In the session journalists from 11 hill districts of the region, updated on the current safety situation of the journalists. The meeting brought together a total of 84 participants from 11 districts. Those attending the programme were journalists and human rights defenders from the partner organizations including FNJ, Sancharika Samuha, WOREC, INSEC and ACORAB.
The project is being managed by the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Communications and the National Human Rights Commission Nepal and many other organizations working for human rights and media development.
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