22.11.2012 - UNESCO Office in Kathmandu

Vienna Meeting on to launch implementation of UN Action Plan on Safety of Journalists discusses its implementation in Nepal

With the purpose to formulate a concrete strategy to increase the safety of journalists, the 2nd UN Inter-Agency Meeting on Safety of Journalists and Issue of Impunity, a two day event organized by UNESCO, starts today in Vienna, Austria. Nepal will be one of the countries in which the plan will be rolled out. The Vienna event is part of the international efforts to stem violence against journalists, which undermines the basic human right of freedom of expression in many parts of the world and restricts citizens’ ability to get the full range of independent information to which they are entitled.

Freedom of expression, including the right to receive and express opinions and impart information, is essential in building just and participatory democratic societies. Nevertheless, the number of journalists killed, harassed and intimidated in the line of duty has been increasing day by day. Media sector that is physically insecure cannot disseminate information and opinions fearlessly. Nepal has a long history of attack on journalism.

According to Federation of Nepali Journalists’ (FNJ) annual report 2011/2012, 99 incidents relating to violation of the press freedom were registered in 2011. The data includes cases of mysterious deaths, 25 attacks, 28 threats, 15 reports of misbehavior, seven arrests, one abduction and eight incidents of burning of newspapers. Likewise, the report also presents four incidents of attacks and threats on media companies, five incidents of obstruction in free journalism and five attacks on the vehicles of the media. Journalists have been attacked and threatened by the government, political parties and their sister organizations, individuals holding public posts, civil servants and security agencies.

Although people involved in physical attacks on journalists and issuing threats have been identified, only a negligible number of them have been investigated and punished. This shows that the government lacks seriousness in safeguarding media freedoms. 

Analyzing the FNJ 2011/2012 annual report, it can be concluded that physical security was one of the biggest problems faced by Nepali media. Journalists should have reasonable levels of personal safety if they are to carry out their work and realize the right of all citizens to receive reliable information. States and societies are responsible for creating and maintaining the conditions required to preserve the fundamental right to freedom of expression and combating the impunity all too often enjoyed by perpetrators of attacks against journalists. 

The UN organizations taking part in the Vienna meeting will consult with invited international and regional institutions, national governments, professional organizations and NGOs. They will then define the implementation strategy for the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity for the next two years. 

This strategy will include international, regional and national activities. Four countries, namely Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, and South Sudan have been selected for the first phase of implementation.

The UN Plan of Action represents the outcome of a process that began in 2010 at the request of UNESCO's the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). Consequently, the first UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity took place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 13-14 September 2011.


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