The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliates the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and the Nepal Press Union (NPU) in condemning the circular issued by the Election Commission (EC) directing the Press Council of Nepal (PCN) to produce a newspaper editor over critical news. The IFJ demands immediate withdrawal of the directive.
The EC on July 31 wrote to PCN ‘to present the chief editor of the Deshantar weekly before the EC within three days’ for clarification on two news items that the constitutional body claimed to be ‘false’ and ‘baseless’. The news items in question were published on July 23 and 30 accusing the EC of financial misconduct. The EC also directed PCN to take action against the Chief Editor Kabir Rana.
FNJ General Secretary Ujir Magar in a statement, said: “To issue such directives encroaching on the jurisdiction of the Press Council to review complaints about journalists’ ethics and take action is an interference on the freedom of the press and expression. The FNJ condemns the EC directive.”
NPU General Secretary Ajaya Babu Shiwakoti, in a statement, said: “The NPU has taken the directive as a remnant of authoritarian governance. The directive has raised questions about the EC officials’ commitment towards press freedom and people’s right to question their decisions and functioning. The NPU condemns the act of harassing media for its content.”
The IFJ said: “The IFJ is seriously concerned by the directive of the Election Commission of Nepal directing Press Council for action on chief editor Kabir Rana of Deshantar weekly for the critical news. Such acts, beyond the jurisdiction of the EC, undermines not only the press freedom but also the democracy in Nepal and the IFJ demands that the directive to be immediately withdrawn.”
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