KATHMANDU, Nepal- Nepal though is practicing the multi-party democracy for the last 25 years and has been declared republic for the last five years, but it is not properly build up with the citizens’ right to information as many journalists are still being killed, beaten and threatened for the news they wrote. And the same condition of Nepali journalists was discussed amidst the presence of media representatives from various organizations and media experts here.
The experts have painted an alarming picture of journalists’ security in Nepal.
During a workshop organized by UNESCO office in Kathmandu on UN Plan of Action on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, speakers raise issues related to physical safety and financial security of journalists. The workshop saw the participation of representatives from different media houses, UNESCO officials and development communication experts
President of Federation of Nepali Journalists Shiva Gaunle said that media workers worldwide are in constant battle against governments as those in the power do not like criticisms. Gaunle acknowledged that there are both internal and external threats, but said that along with raising the issue of journalists´ safety, it is important to ensure that journalists act responsibly and accountably.
“Journalists receive threats from various interest groups,” said Gaunle, adding, “But they also create difficulties for themselves by deviating from professionalism.”
UNESCO Nepal Representative Axel Plathe said that journalists in Nepal were under threat as impunity in the country was rising. “There is continuous aggression against journalists and media persons and the impunity in many cases of violence against journalists continue to threaten the still fragile peace process,” Plathe added.
Coordinator of the UNESCO´s Increasing the Safety of Journalists Project Laxman Datt Pant said that the attacks over journalists should not be pardoned under any pretext. “There may be professional lapses on the part of journalists, but no one has the right to kill or attack them,” said Pant, maintaining that there were organizations that handled and addressed the grievances related to the wrongdoings by journalists and media.
Pant said that the government, FNJ and media houses should take initiative for maintaining the safety of journalists.
Development communication expert Piyush Mishra said, “Journalism itself is a profession of risk.” He further insisted that the government should implement all the international conventions related to freedom of expression that the government has endorsed. “Awareness must be raised on a broad scale to sensitize the policy makers, media owners, journalists, general public on the importance of freedom of expression and impunity,” Mishra said.
The participants rued over both physical and financial insecurity faced by journalists in Nepal. “We are most unsafe from different political parties and their cadres,” said the participating media workers.