CA members root for press freedom

Kathmandu, November 11:

Constituent Assembly members from some 12 parties said today that they would see to it that the new constitution guarantees freedom of opinion and expression.

Speaking at an interaction on guaranteeing press freedom and freedom of expression, organised by the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) at the Department of Information, Constituent Assembly member Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat said true democracy does not exist without freedom of expression. The Nepali Congress lawmaker said time was ripe to bring the state-owned media under the management of an autonomous body.

Adviser to the FNJ and former chairman of the journalists’ body, Bishnu Nishthuri, accused the parties of having double standards on the issue of state-owned media.

“While they are in the opposition, the parties advocate autonomy for the state-owned media. As soon as they join the government, the parties use the same media to serve petty interests,” Nishthuri added.

He recalled that the Finance Minister, Dr Baburam Bhattarai, who had once signed on the Maoists’ 40-point charter of demands, which pledged to grant autonomy to the state-owned media, had allocated budget for the operation of the same media.

He criticised the government for not bothering to constitute an independent and legal commission to look into cases of death and disappearance of journalists.

Another Federation of Nepali Journalists adviser Shiva Gaunle said big parties were giving rise to controversies by not taking initiatives to frame a new constitution on time.

Constituent Assembly member Chandra Dev Joshi accused the media of ignoring small parties and asked them not to serve as mouthpieces of certain groups.