WPFD2020 : MAN Calls to Stand by Commitments to Protect Press Freedom
KATHMANDU: Media Action Nepal (MAN) – a media rights advocacy group promoting independent and accountable media in Nepal has expressed its serious concerns over the obstacles to free flow of information in Nepal. Issuing a statement on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day that falls on May 3, Mr. Laxman Datt Pant, and Chairperson of MAN urged the government of Nepal to stand by its commitments to promote freedom of the press and free flow of information.
‘The authorities in Nepal should create environment conducive for journalists to work freely and to have easy access to sources for journalists to report the global pandemic in safe environment’, the statement reads.
The recent incidents of harassments against journalists merely for exposing irregularities while procuring COVID19 health materials, arrest and misbehavior with three reporters including a female in Chitwan covering COVID19, threats by representatives of local governments against journalists covering mismanagement and anomalies in distribution of relief materials in different parts of the country are the proofs that authorities do not adhere with their commitments to freedom of the press.
A news-portal in Nepal that carried out a story, citing the involvement of the Prime Minister’s secretariat team including the Information Technology Expert in procurement of a company for the supply of health materials, has been hacked and the story was deleted by the accused. No actions were taken against the accused.
Seeking clarification and taking action against state owned Radio Nepal’s executive director and news chief for the opinion expressed in a live program by a former prime minister is an example of the direct control over media.
Taking advantages from the COVID19 pandemic to intimidate journalists and to restrict access to the government actions are not acceptable and violate the government’s assurance towards Article 19 of the UDHR and the ICCPR that guarantee freedom of expression and the Article 19 of the Constitution of Nepal that ensures Right to Communication.
MAN also reminds journalists to report responsibly abiding by the principles of ethical and responsible journalists. The media houses should also ensure that their reporters are provided with the minimum safety materials and responded with respect to their courage and conviction exposing truths at the time of crisis. Media and journalists should stay away from rumors and fight the disinformation so not to put citizen’s lives at risk. Only a free and responsible media can contribute towards strengthening democracy.