UNESCO organizes interaction programme on journalists’ safety
UNESCO in collaboration with the Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (ACORAB) organized a regional kick-off meeting and interaction programme on its new two-year project aimed at increasing the safety of journalists and ending impunity on 6 August 2013 in Sauraha , Chitwan district.
The programme was organized to present the project ‘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.
“The project is based on our conviction that the freedom of expression and freedom of the press are essential pre-requisites for peace, the establishment of democracy and the rule of law”, said Axel Plathe, UNESCO Representative to Nepal and the Head of UNESCO Office in Kathmandu in the regional kick-off meeting of the project.
“However, 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,” Plathe added.
Shiva Gaunle, president of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) said that the soon to be established mechanism within the project will address many aspects associated with the safety of journalists in Nepal. He also urged journalists to be aware of the limitations of the profession and strictly follow the code of conduct.
Narendra Raj Sharma, Chief District Officer of Chitwan said: “The mechanism will be able to fill up the gap between journalists and security institutions on issues concerning right to freedom of expression”.
Bholanath Chaulagain, justice at the District Court in Chitwan, said that the initiative by UNESCO is a timely effort to address threats against journalists. “I request journalists to take care of legal and technical aspects while reporting on court issues”, he added.
Raj Kumar Shrestha, president of Nepal Bar Association at District Court in Chitwan, said that the journalists need to be physically safe to disseminate news. “Impunity should be ended to maintain rule of law,” he added.
Khem Bhandari, Chairperson of the Minimum Wages Determination Committee (MWDC) said that both physical and professional threats against journalists remain a serious issue in Nepal. He urged for the effective implementation of the Working Journalists’ Act.
Colonel of Nepali Army Jotendra Mahat, SP of Armed Police Force Murari Basnet and Inspector of Nepal Police Kedar Pant were also present in the programme.
In the second half of the programme, an interaction session was organized to discuss the security situation of the journalists in the region. Laxman Datt Pant, project coordinator at UNESCO presented the key activities of the Journalists’ Safety project. The session chaired by MWDC’s chairperson Khem Bhandari was moderated by FNJ president Shiva Gaunle.
Bhumi Chapagain, station manager of Vijaya FM presented the context and situation of journalists’ safety in Central region, while Sarita Dahal, Central regional coordinator of Sancharika Samuha presented the safety situation of woman journalists in the region. Likewise INSEC Chitwan district representative Mukunda Dahal presented the overall human rights situation in the region.
The meeting brought together a total of 79 journalists and human rights defenders from eight districts.
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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