Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists

© UNESCO\ B. Karki

UNESCO promotes freedom of expression and freedom of the press as a basic human right through sensitization and monitoring activities. The Office acts as a promoter of dialogue among media professionals and provides advice to media professionals, institutions and local authorities in Nepal to enhance the development of freedom of expression. It promotes media independence and pluralism in the country as fundamental to the process of democracy, peace, development, and the restructuring of the Constitution.

The Office’s work in this area includes:  

  • Undertaking advocacy in the form of open dialogue with government and civil society and through issuance of press statements on various critical issues, such as freedom of expression, freedom of the press and impunity for violence against journalists and media workers. 
  • Promoting freedom of expression and freedom of the press through the celebrations of the World Press Freedom Day, held annually on 3 May.
  • Promoting the principle of public service broadcasting through actions aimed at guaranteeing the principle of editorial independence by law and execution of it through regulation in the new Constitution of Nepal.

Safety of Journalists

In Nepal, the safety of journalists and media workers is still a matter of great concern. The media is often referred to the lifeblood of an inclusive and democratic society. Though there has been a significant decrease in reported cases of violence and threats against media workers, journalism remains professionally weak and economically insecure. Journalists repeatedly find themselves in vulnerable conditions both physically and psychologically.

"Supporting Safety of Journalists in Nepal” handbook

In November 2016, as part of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) of UNESCO, the handbook “Supporting Safety of Journalists in Nepal” was launched in coordination with the Office.

The publication provides an overview of the safety problems that journalists face in Nepal while providing a deeper context including stakeholders’ responsibility of addressing violence against the media across the country.

Data draws attention to the high number of unsolved cases where impunity for crimes against journalists continues to be allowed. This tells citizens that freedom of expression is not protected - diminishing public trust in security and justice institutions- and contributes to an atmosphere of insecurity and self-censorship.

“Increasing the safety of journalists”

© UNESCO\B. Karki

The Office implemented the project “Increasing the Safety of Journalists” from April 2013 to March 2015.

Journalists, media academics, human rights activists, security, judiciary and administrative bodies across the country, were sensitized on the importance of the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity in Nepal. Various discussion programs encouraged dialogue among different stakeholders. As a consequence, citizens’ confidence in the security sector has increased, resulting in institutions becoming more capable, accountable and responsive to Nepal’s diverse society.

Other specific outcomes of the project

  • The National Human Rights Commission of Nepal endorsed a plan in their strategy to establish an independent, nationally-owned mechanism for dealing with safety of journalists and impunity.
  •  A study on Impunity in Nepal with special reference to freedom of expression and the safety of journalists was conducted. A detailed analytical assessment was conducted based on the journalists’ safety indicators.
  • The existing Code of Journalistic Ethics was revised by national and international experts. The amended version will soon be released by the Press Council Nepal.
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