MAN Chairperson Addresses Special Session on Safety of Journalists
Laxman Datt Pant, renowned media rights advocate and the Chairperson of Media Action Nepal (MAN) invited as the panelist during the session on the ‘Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity’ organized on May 4, 2017 at Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia in relation to the celebration of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), 2017. Presenting the context of press freedom in Nepal, he highlighted on need to engage state agencies, judicial bodies and parliamentarians to establish an independent mechanism for the safety of journalists.
The session moderated by Sylvie Coudray , Chief for Freedom of Expression Section, UNESCO was also shared by Frank La Rue Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO, Meutya Hafid, Vice Chairperson, Commission I on Defense, Military Intelligence, Information and Foreign Affairs (Indonesia), Ranga Kalansooriya, Director General, Department of Government Information, Sri Lanka, Elisabeth Witchel, Independent media consultant to Committee to Protect Journalists, Kathryn Raymundo, Alerts Officer, Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), Jonathan Bock, Coordinator, Center for Press Studies, Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa, Malou Mangahas, Executive Director, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and Najiba Ayubi, Managing Director, The Killid Group as panelists.
Mr. Pant also participated in the main events and interacted with diverse groups and personalities on the challenges of media freedom and the issue of impunity in Nepal. Some 1,500 participants from 90 countries attended the World Press Freedom Day International Conference organized by UNESCO in partnership with the Government of Indonesia and the Indonesian Press Council in Jakarta from May 1 to 4, where they adopted the Jakarta Declaration, after examining the challenges facing media around the world.
The Jakarta Declaration mostly warned of three key challenges to media freedom including safety of journalists, false news and freedom of speech on the Internet. In the 74-point Declaration, participants recognized that the internet is a powerful medium for self-expression. They also observed that the proliferation of falsified information can polarize public debate misleading the whole segments of society and undermining professional journalism.
The conference focused on the theme Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies. The May 3 celebrations were attended by personalities including Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi)UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, Jose Ramos-Horta, former President of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Richard Gingras, Vice President of News at Google, the Indonesian Vice President Mohammad Jusuf Kalla who underlined the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
May 3 acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. The international day was proclaimed by the U.N. General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCOs General Conference in 1991.