MAN Commemorates International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists
Media Action Nepal (MAN) in collaboration with UNESCO commemorated the “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists” by launching a study report “Supporting Safety of Journalists in Nepal: An Assessment Based on UNESCO’s Safety Indicators” on November 9 in Kathmandu.
The study report was launched jointly by Mohna Ansari, commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Borna Bahadur Karki, chairperson of Press Council Nepal (PCN). The study report published by UNESCO and edited by renowned communication experts Dr. Nirmala Mani Adhikary and Laxman Datt Pant, presents an assessment of the national media safety landscape for journalists in Nepal. The study has employed Journalists’ Safety Indicators (JSI) of UNESCO for the assessment. Though there is a huge growth in terms of quantity in the media sector in Nepal, journalism remains professionally weak and economically insecure, and the journalists are in highly vulnerable condition in terms of physical and psychological safety, the report reads.
The editor duo elaborated the content and issues of the study report. They also briefly explained about the scenario of journalists’ safety in Nepal. Dr. Nirmalmani Adhikary stated that there is drastic change in reported cases of violence and threats against journalists in the recent years. However, many cases of threat against journalists go unreported, he added.
Laxman Datt Pant, Chairperson of Media Action Nepal said that though Nepal has comparatively good media laws, the implementation of the same remains a huge cry. Journalism in Nepal remains the most vulnerable profession in terms of physical, psychological and professional safety, he added. Pant stressed on establishing a mechanism that could look after the cases of media rights violations. Christian Manhart, UNESCO representative to Nepal highlighted that Nepal remains with challenges to end impunity and protect journalists. He mentioned that there were 139 cases of violence against journalists from April 2015 to April 2016 in Nepal including that of the arrest, threats and obstruction in work among others.
Mohana Ansari from NHRC stated that the commission’s mandate to work on ending impunity to guarantee the human rights of the individual is directly proportional to protection of the freedom of expression and safety of journalists. There is a trend to select female journalists by testing the skin than her skills, this trend must be stopped, she added.
The Chairperson of Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) Mahendra Bista said that the Nepali media is lacking quality. For the healthy growth of media there should be good quality than quantity, he added. Kishor Shrestha, First Vice President of the World Association of Press Councils (WAPC) reminded about the threats and the cases of violence against journalists in different time frame. It is really a matter of shame to see perpetrators walking free; he disparaged the government’s recklessness in addressing the impunity.
Borna Bahadur Karki from PCN said that journalism and right to information are two sides of the same coin. Nepal is in political transition, where journalists have a bigger role to play, he added. Poshan KC, the chairperson of Minimum Wage Fixation Committee claimed that about half of the journalists do not have contract papers from their employees. Many journalists were unpaid for long time, he added. Raghuram Bista, Director General of the Department of Information highlighted on maintaining journalists code of conduct.
The program chaired by Laxman Datt Pant, Chairperson of Media Action Nepal was attended by a total of 80 participants including journalists, human rights activists; media rights advocates, media experts and academics.