The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined an international press freedom and freedom of expression mission to Nepal from January 13 to 17. The mission, organised by IFJ affiliate the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), brought 15 international delegates together in Kathmandu to meet local political and civil society leaders, media organisations, different social groups and representatives of major international governments and donors.
At a press conference held on January 17 in Kathmandu which marked the end of the mission, members welcomed the progress which has been made on reforming the media environment since April 2006, but also noted that much remains to be done to ensure the continued development of the media in Nepal.
Key issues addressed during the mission included Nepal’s political transition and its recent constitutional crisis with relation to its impact on the media and freedom of expression. The mission also assessed the problem of continuing violence against journalists and media workers in the country and urged the government to deal adequately with freedom of expression and the media, particularly in the lead-up to this year’s constituent assembly elections.
In the mission statement, international members urged the national and local media in Nepal to provide independent and impartial coverage of the elections and avoid biased content. The international mission also spoke with government ministers, political party leaders, community leaders and security forces about the importance of constituent assembly elections proceeding as scheduled and encouraged them to fully support an independent and unobstructed media to ensure a free and fair vote.
The mission also visited the Bara and Parsa districts where journalists Birendra Shah and Bahadur Shrestha were murdered, and Kanchanpur district from where journalist Prakash Singh Thakuri disappeared. The FNJ monitoring office, established in cooperation with the IFJ, has recorded 652 incidents of press freedom violations between April 2006 and December 2007.
To read the full mission statement, go to www.ifj-asia.org/page/nepalmission080118.html.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries