HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: UNESCO today launched a two-year project aimed at ensuring the safety of journalists and ending the state of impunity that has been seen of late in crimes committed against media and media professionals.
The project is being managed by the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Communications, the National Human Rights Commission and many other organisations working for human rights and media development.
The new initiative focuses on improving the security situation of media professionals by a multi-level approach based on the comprehensive framework of the ‘UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity’.
Funded with a budget of $566,500 by the United Nations Peace Fund for Nepal, the project aims to contribute to the establishment of sustainable peace and the rule of law by helping protect the freedom of expression. “Journalists play an essential role in the peace process. But they must be safe to be able to provide people access to non-partisan information,” said Axel Plathe, UNESCO Representative to Nepal and the Head of UNESCO Office in Kathmandu in the kick-off meeting of the project today. “Continuous aggression against journalists and mediapersons and the impunity in many cases of press freedom violations and violence against journalists continue to threaten the still fragile peace process,” Plathe added. “The number of cases of press freedom violations and violence against journalists is increasing every year.”
The citizen’s rights to freedom of expression and right to information are closely related with the safety of journalists, NHRC Commissioner Gauri Pradhan said. “The situation is improving but there are still a lot of cases of violence against journalists,” Pradhan added, urging all stakeholders to help develop a free, fair and ethical journalism.
Yadu Prasad Panthi, Under Secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications, said the Government of Nepal was committed to ensuring the rights of people and MoIC and concerned departments have carried out various activities to ensure journalists’ safety.
Acting president of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, Yasodha Timilsina, said media have been forced to believe that journalists in Nepal are still not safe, both physically and professionally. “When journalists cannot operate in a safe environment, this is immediately reflected on the quality of their work. Hence, when it comes to constitutionally ensuring the freedom of press and expression, one also needs to ensure the physical and professional safety of journalists,” she added.
Jesper Hojberg, executive director of the International Media Support, highlighted the role of international media missions regularly carried out since 2005, in ensuring the rights and safety of journalists in Nepal.