FNJ announces national campaign for press freedom

Kathmandu, May 5

The seventh plenary session of Federation of Nepali Journalists today concluded with a seven-point decision to pull together its efforts for safeguarding the press freedom and interests of mediapersons.

As per the decision of the two-day session, FNJ will organise National Campaign for Freedom of Press and Expression for four months from May 15 under the theme ‘Media for National Prosperity: Free, Safe and Professional Journalists.’ FNJ central, provincial and local level chapters will hold meeting, extensive discussion, symposium, interaction, orientation and media mission with participation of representatives from different organisations, rights activists, professionals, political parties and various state organs. These programmes will deliberate on policy issues raised by FNJ.

The policy issues include freedom of press and expression, rights and interests of journalists, nationality, democracy, civil rights and interests of media.

According to FNJ, the umbrella organisation of journalists will strongly protest anti-press provisions stipulated in the laws enacted by the federal, provincial and local levels, or the bills tabled at the House of Representatives or that are in the process of being drafted. It warned that any attempts to control, curtail and inhibit the exercise of freedom of press and expression would not be acceptable. “The campaign will pressure the government to amend the already enacted draconian laws and suggest for press-friendly provisions for new laws to be formulated,”FNJ stated.

FNJ central, provincial and local committees shall submit a letter of attention to lawmakers, governments and political parties of all three levels demanding that they guarantee exercise, protection and promotion of freedom of press, and expression in the law. “FNJ and stakeholders will make public their common opinion and stance on the draft of proposed laws upon necessary discussion thereof. They will also remind the lawmakers and authorities about the universal principles of press freedom and urge them to act accordingly,” according to a press release by FNJ.

FNJ said media would be mobilised to stir the government for the establishment of an Information Commission Centre in all provinces at the earliest for easy access of citizens to information.

The plenary session has decided to launch a pressure campaign for the implementation of the Working Journalists’ Act to ensure appointment letters and minimum monthly salary for all mediapersons and employees at media houses on a regular basis.

“FNJ will provide free legal aid to working journalists who are facing various charges in the course of performing their duties. Legal desk will be established in all provinces for professional and physical security of the journalists,” it informed.

According to a report by FNJ, as many as 60 instances of press freedom violations were reported since May 4 last year, majority of them being attacks, threats, misconduct and arrests. More than 77 journalists and five media houses faced criminal charges and harassments for alleged violation of the Electronic Transactions Act.