MAN organizes seminar on Role of 'Media in Peace Building'

MAN organizes seminar on Role of 'Media in Peace Building'

Media Action Nepal (MAN) in collaboration with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) organized a national seminar on Role of Media in Peace Building at Hotel Yak and Yeti, Kathmandu, on January 23, 2018. The seminar was attended by high level government authorities, heads of the constitutional bodies, media professionals and journalists from different media outlets. The seminar was divided into two parts: inaugural session and working session.  

There was overwhelming presence of high-level dignitaries in the inaugural session of the program. The inaugural session was chaired by Media Action Nepal’s Chairperson Mr. Laxman Datt Pant.  The chief guest of the inaugural session was Former Chairman of the Council of Ministers and the Former Chief Justice Mr. Khil Raj Regmi.

Other high-level guests included from 10 various organizations such as National Human Rights Commission, National Information Commission, Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Press Council Nepal, Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission on the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons. The inaugural session was moderated by Vice-Chair Nepal Ms. Priyanka Jha.  The program was inaugurated by Mr. Regmi. 

Welcoming the participants, ICRC-Nepal’s Mission Head Mr. Andre Paquet said that media is a channel between transitional justice mechanisms and conflict victims. He lauded the role played by media in the transitional justice issues. He elaborated in detail about the activities carried out by ICRC in Nepal. He said ICRC activities are being carried out and conducted in collaboration with Nepal Red Cross Society. 

Chairperson of the Conflict Victims Common Platform Mr. Suman Adhikari said transitional justice mechanisms were formed after the 10 years of signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement. He said transitional justice mechanisms have completed original tenure of three years but there are not substantial progresses yet when it comes to providing justice to war-era victims

President of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, an umbrella organization of journalist across the country, Mr. Govinda Acharya said media's role in the implementation of peace building is very vital. He said despite having CPA and constitution, Nepali society is still in conflict with change in its nature. 

Chairperson of Press Council Nepal (PCN) Mr. Kishor Shrestha said journalists are sandwiched between perpetrators and conflict victims. He, however, said media are serving their responsibility. He underlined the need of objective reporting by media on transitional justice related issues. 

Krishna Raj BC, Secretary at Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction said Ministry is performing a coordinating role to provide justice to war-era victims. He said Ministry is providing support to both commissions. He said ministry is taking some steps in implementation of some international laws.  Commissioner at National Information Commission Ms. Yasodha Timsina underlined the need of effective implementation of Right to Information (RTI). She said even the conflict victims could use RTI as a tool to find out the whereabouts of their family members. Commissioner at National Human Rights Commission Ms. Mohana Ansari underlined the need of informing media about the issues related to human rights, transitional justice and other issues. 

Chairperson of Truth and Reconciliation Commission Mr. Surya Kiran Gurung said such programs must be continued in the coming days as well. Gurung said that in the last three years, he has witnessed such program for the first time. He said nature of the conflict is different in different countries. He conceded that tasks of the TRC are not effective as per the expectations. 

Mr. Lokendra Malik, Chairperson of the Commission on the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons lauded the role played by media in raising the issues related to conflict and transitional justice. Malik said there were immense violations of human right issues. 

Chief Guest of the program, Former Chairman of Council of Ministers and Former Chief Justice Mr. Khil Raj Regmi said around 17 thousand people were killed during the insurgency and three thousand were disappeared. He said the crux of Comprehensive Peace Agreement is the transitional justice mechanisms would be formed to address war-era cases. 

Mr. Regmi said accountability and rule of law are the two vital principles of transitional justice mechanisms.  Regmi said current confusions about the mandate of commissions must be resolved without any delay. He suggested the commissions should focus on completing the tasks as per its current mandate and resolving the barriers in the road ahead.

After the inaugural session, working sessions were held which extensively discussed about the various aspects of transitional justice mechanism. The working session were divided into three different thematic areas. In the first session, Mr. Dilliraj Ghimire, Joint Secretary at Ministry of Law and Justice highlighted the International Humanitarian Laws. The first session was moderated by Mr. Krishna Chalisey, Head of Communications at ICRC. The theme of this session was "Understanding IHL and the Transitional Justice System-challenges and opportunities before Nepal. In the same session, Mr. Ghana Shyam Khadka, Senior Sub-Editor at Kantipur Publications, presented a paper illustrating how media is reporting on transitional justice related issues.

After the lunch break, another session took place. The theme of this Session was TJ mechanism and conflict victims. Mr. Kamal Dev Bhattarai, Board Member of Media Action Nepal moderated this session. Ms. Manchala Jha, Commissioner of TRC, Prof. Dr. Bishnu Pathak, Commissioner at CIEDP and Mr. Ram Kumar Bhandari, Chairperson of NEFAD served as panelists to this session. 

The third session was moderated by Mr. Laxman Datt Pant, Chairperson of Media Action Nepal. The title of this session was "Mass Media’s Role in Peace Building Process."  Panelists included   Mr. Dibya Raj Paudel, Head of Communications, NRCS, Dr. Nirmala Mani Adhikary, Asst. Prof. Kathmandu University, Mr. Krishna Murari Bhandary, Senior Journalist and Mr. Prakash Rimal, Editor of The Himalayan Times.  At the beginning, Moderator Pant highlighted about the role that Media can play in peace building. In the case of Nepal, according to Pant, media can play a vital role to highlight the issues related to transitional justice process. The inaugural session of the seminar was attended by a total of 100 persons whereas working sessions were attended by 40 working journalists.