Nepal | August 12, 2020

‘Journalists deprived of rights to work, pay’

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The National Human Rights Commission today drew its attention to the mental torture meted out to journalists by various media houses on the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Issuing a press release, the rights body said media houses had denied salary to journalists for no valid reasons.

In some cases, Kathmandu-based journalists were transferred to remote districts in a bid to force them to resign. According to the NHRC, it has received a number of complaints from journalists, who have been victimised by media houses.

Citing data released by the Federation of Nepali Journalists, it said more than 2,000 working journalists were rendered jobless in Kathmandu valley and other parts of the country.

The rights body said it had written to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology today to resolve the crisis journalists were facing. It has urged media houses concerned to respect the labour of journalists, who have been working on the frontline for dissemination of information to the public amid the adverse situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and guarantee their right to employment.

The NHRC said such acts had deprived working journalists of their rights to work, facility, remuneration and social security stated in Article 34 of the constitution.

It is also contrary to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights-1996, to which Nepal is a party. “If an enabling environment is not created for journalists to disseminate factual information, it will cause adverse impacts to the citizen’s right to know,” it warned.

Section 20 of the existing Working Journalists Act guarantees that service and facility of journalists shall not be altered or changed in a manner to affect them.

NHRC said it was also the duty of the government to immediately act in favour of journalists, guarantee smooth flow of information and ensure that journalists are paid on a regular basis.

The rights body suggested that the government seek short, mid and long-term plans to protect journalists, and guarantee fundamental human rights.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 18, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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