The following recommendations are based on the assessment carried out by the members of the International Mission. 5.1 Press freedom violations and safety 1. Police should investigate thoroughly all threats of violence against journalists and media workers, and the public should be made aware of investigations and prosecutions to discourage attacks, and ensure an end to impunity. The International Mission will closely watch progress in the investigations of the pending cases on the attacks on Birendra Sah, Prakash Singh Thakuri, Prakash Shrestha, J.P. Joshi and Uma Singh. The Mission urges all international agencies and governments to raise the issue of state responsibility during their interactions with the government of Nepal. 2. Press freedom monitoring networks should be strengthened across the country and specifically in areas outside of Kathmandu. In this regard, the monitoring system of the FNJ should be maintained and strengthened, including reporting nationally and internationally on information gathered, and a central database on press freedom violations should be established and maintained. 3. Safety training should be provided through existing training organizations and relevant international organizations. Such training should be country-specific and accessible to all journalists and media workers in the districts. 4. Media houses should provide basic safety equipment to journalists when needed. 5. Life and health insurance should be provided to journalists, photographers, camerapersons and media workers, and for their equipment. 6. Support mechanisms to assist threatened journalists and their families should be strengthened and institutionalised. 7. Safe houses, hotlines, reactive missions and other safety related activities should be strengthened/ undertaken as needed. 8. Local authorities, judiciary and police should be trained on press freedoms and freedom on information issues. 9. Linkages between human rights defenders, peace-process mediators, FNJ and other national media bodies should be strengthened. 10. Political parties should develop positions and concrete measures in support of media safety and clearly communicate these to their membership and the public. 11. No journalist should be sacked simply on the basis of his or her political perspective as long as it does not reflect in the content of his/her work.
5.2 Uma Singh’s murder and pending investigations 1. The International Media Mission recommends that the government invite competent external parties such as the OHCHR, FNJ, and other NGOs to assist the police in carrying out speedy, impartial, thorough and transparent investigations of all threats, kidnappings, disappearances and murder of journalists and media workers. 2. That the government demonstrate clearly its commitment to press freedom and freedom of expression through involvement in the investigations and by working for the establishment of a committee or sub-committee within Parliament to study all credible cases in which journalists or media workers have been threatened, kidnapped, disappeared or murdered. 3. That it cooperate with civil society and competent institutions to reach an accord on how to provide security to journalists and other media workers, with special attention to the security of women journalists. 5.3 Impunity and investigations into the attacks of journalists 1. The International Media Mission urges the UN OHCHR to investigate the murder of Uma Singh as circumstantial evidence suggests she may have been killed for her role as journalist (a human rights defender) and not over a pending property dispute as Nepali authorities have been presenting the case. 2. The state is responsible for investigating all the pending cases of murder and disappearance of journalists. Only thorough investigations and punishing those guilty can the state put a stop to attack on the media and journalists. 3. The growing impunity for those responsible for attacking journalists must stop immediately. This can be attained by thoroughly investigating and punishing those responsible for attacks on Birendra Sah, Prakash Singh Thakuri, Prakash Shrestha, J.P. Joshi and Uma Singh. The Mission also recommends that the government initiate investigations and actions against the murderers of Dekendra Thapa. 4. The mission also demands impartial investigations into the murders of all journalists killed before 2006 and punishing those who were responsible. 5. The attacks on journalists and media companies must end immediately. Violence against journalists and the media cannot be justified for any reason in a law-abiding society. Ending violence against the media would be Nepal’s first step towards democratisation because there can be no democracy without a free media and vice-versa. 5.4 Media policy and legal reform 1. An inclusive consultative process with the media community, civil society and other stakeholders should be undertaken to ensure broad and inclusive discussion on media policy reform and to identify action areas. 2. The new constitution should ensure press freedom and freedom of expression, and guarantee the independence of media regulatory bodies. 3. Authorities should consider the provision of a regular grant from the state to the media, either directly in terms of finances or indirectly through tax relief in accordance with the spirit of the UNESCO ‘Florence Treaty’ – the Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials; any such system of support, however, should be based on equitable, objective criteria applied in a non-discriminatory fashion. 4. The Ministry of Information and Communication should either close or privatise all state-run media, or turn them into public service media. 5. Support should be provided to national and local authorities to train public officials on the implementation of new media legislation. 6. Public awareness should be developed regarding the new media and right to information legislation and voluntary media accountability systems and capacity building should be provided to the media community and civil society to monitor implementation of the new laws. 7. The participation of experts should be ensured in all activities relating to media law and policy reform; despite many of the positive steps Nepal has made, standards still fall short of international standards. 8. The distribution of public advertisement should be allocated through a fair and transparent mechanism to both print and broadcasting media. 9. The FNJ legal desk should be strengthened for responding to protection needs of journalists and media workers. The legal desk will assist in ensuring enforcement of laws related to the media. 5.5 Broadcast media 1. State radio and TV should be placed under the governance of an adequately financed independent body, the membership of which should reflect the diversity of Nepali society. 2. The mandate of public service broadcasters should be to serve the needs of all groups in society, especially those not being adequately served by commercial and community broadcasters. 3. The licensing process should be designed to promote diversity in the broadcasting sector. 4. Frequencies are a public resource and political parties should not control broadcasting stations. A study should be carried out to assess the ownership of broadcasting stations. 5. All regulation of broadcasting should be undertaken by an independent regulatory body. 6. Support should be made available for existing broadcast media, particularly in the districts, for addressing infrastructure problems and working towards financial sustainability in the post-donor environment. 5.6 Print media 1. Taxes on newsprint and replacement parts should be lowered and postal rates reduced. 2. Registration requirements for print media should be removed. 3. Rules on cross-ownership and concentration of ownership should be set. 4. The Audit Bureau of Circulation should be established and supported to undertake its duties. 5.7 Unions and associations 1. Trade unions should negotiate (not resort to violence) for fair and reasonable working conditions and employers should seek to implement the amended Working Journalists Act. Media employers should implement fair and decent working conditions, which also reflect equal access to recruitment, work opportunities and promotion for all groups. 2. Support should be provided for strengthening associations, unions and media organizations at the national and district levels, including for the secretariats and performance of core-functions (with specific reference to the FNJ). 3. Gender awareness and mainstreaming should be promoted among media associations and institutions. Media employers should ensure that women and members of minority groups are provided equal opportunities for employment, pay, professional assignments and promotion. 4. The minimum wages and other recommendations made by the committee for fixing minimum wage should be implemented and should gradually be extended to all media, irrespective of type and size of investment. 5.8 District media 1. Assistance should be provided for improving communications for media workers and district media outlets (including telephone, internet, etc.) 2. Assistance should be provided for the training of journalists from marginalized groups to ensure that they receive the same professional development opportunities as other journalists, and that they can be properly represented in the national media. 3. Access to longer-term training opportunities should be provided in basic journalism skills, as well as specialized areas such as graphic design and business management. 4. Training of Trainers (TOT) should be undertaken for building a team of district-based media trainers. 5. Access to modern equipment, including offset printing presses and field reporting equipment, should be made available through appropriate mechanisms. 6. Options to facilitate improved circulation of the print media should be provided.
Today is the age of 24 hrs news channel. We are viewing news of children kidnapping. So are we watching about the lynching of innocent alleged kidnappers. Why are these incidents increasing? Does it have anything to do with media-boom?
I think it has something to do with media too. Not all. I am not saying media is totally responsible of it. They are disseminating news about the killings, kidnappings and looting. This reporting inadvertently creates of the image of insecure Nepal in people’s mind. People are feeling insecure. One thing is sure. Media is doing nothing to decrease the rate of lynching. They are not proactive on the issue.
Here I am not resurrecting mass society theory. But we know we are in transitional phase and there is a kind of lawlessness.
Once again we got chance to see an old drama. There is no difference in its plot. Yes, its actors are different. But drama’s ending is same as previous one. Yesterday government reshuffled people bossing government –owned media institutions: Nepal Television, Rastriya Samacharsamiti, Gorkhapatra Corporationa and Film Development Board. The cabinet meeting appointed Kundan Aryal as Executive Chair of Nepal Television, Amar Giri as Chair of Film Development Board, Bal Krishna Chapagain as chair of Rastriya Sambad Samiti, and Vijaya Chalise as Executive Chair & Shambu Shrestha as General Manager of Gorkhapatra Corporation. Last time Ministry of Information and Communication was under CPN (Maoist)’s hand. Now it is the turn of CPN(UML). It is filling these posts with those near to its ideology. Many of them are from Press Chautari.
As a student of mass communication and journalism, I have been doing studies on government-owned media in Nepal. I want to find ways to reduce this kind of interference from government. I desire to turn government-owned media to state-owned media institutions. There should be initiation from parliament in these kinds of political appointment. I think it will help to reduce government interference. Do you accept me?