Don’t force journos to reveal sources, NPC tells police

  • Police do not have power to seek the source of a news story, says FNJ

Kathmandu, January 8

Nepal Press Council today held a meeting with Chief of Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range SSP Rabindra Bahadur Dhanuk and Investigating Officer DSP Bel Bahadur Pandey and told them not to force online journalists to reveal the sources of the ‘original copy’ of former DIG Nawa Raj Silwal’s performance evaluation report.

Kathmandu police recently wrote letters to some online journalists seeking to know the source of their news report that contained a story about former DIG Silwal’s performance evaluation report.

Acting Chairperson of Nepal Press Council Kishor Shrestha said his office told  Dhanuk and Pandey that forcing journalists to reveal the sources of their news would be against fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution, Nepal Press Council Act and Journalists Code of Conduct.

He said he told the police that they should not formally or informally call journalists who ran the news story about DIG Silwal’s performance evaluation report and if the police had any problem regarding any news story, then they should write to the NPC.

“Now we will call the journalists who wrote and printed the stories in question and will get their side of the story. Now the ball is in the journalists’ court,” Shrestha said, adding that journalists have the privilege of preferring not to name the sources of their news, but it was their duty to prove the authenticity of their news.

“Journalists also need to be responsible. They should not act like activists,” he added.

Shrestha said police told NPC office bearers that they had written to some online media outlets seeking to know the source of their documents as they claimed that they had the original copy of former DIG Silwal’s performance evaluation report.

Dhanuk and Pandey also told the NPC that they were investigating the case because the Supreme Court had ordered police to investigate who were responsible for tampering with DIG Silwal’s performance evaluation report and to punish the guilty.

Shrestha said after the meeting, that Kathmandu police had written to the NPC seeking their help in the investigation.

Silwal had filed a case at the Supreme Court claiming that he had scored higher marks than other competitors and he should be promoted to the post of Inspector General of Police.

The SC, however, ruled that Prakash Aryal had scored the highest marks and the government’s decision to promote him to the post of IGP was valid. In the case, the government had accused Silwal of doctoring his performance evaluation report.

Meanwhile Federation of Nepali Journalists today issued a press statement warning police not to seek to know the sources of news.

“The Federation of Nepali Journalists makes it clear that the police do not have the power to seek source of a news story and neither do  they have power to summon editors in relation to a news story. The FNJ urges all to seek a solution through Nepal Press Council if there is any news-related grievance against any media,” the FNJ said in its release.

Stating that summoning journalists over news contents would adversely affect press freedom, the FNJ urged the police ‘not to repeat such mistakes.’

It warned that it would take strong steps if any act against press freedom was not stopped.

It also said that it held meetings with various press orgnisations, including Press Centre Nepal, Online Journalists Association, Press Union and Press Chautari Nepal and decided to draw the attention of the government and security agencies to this issue and to fight unitedly to defend press freedom and freedom of expression.