WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY : Call for neutral reporting to consolidate democracy

Kathmandu, May 2:

Speakers at a programme held here today said in-depth and accurate reporting is a must to bring about political stability in a society that has just put an end to conflict.

“In a post-conflict society like Nepal, there are still challenges to ensure political stability, guarantee human rights and development. Media plays a central role in the transition period,” said Richard Bennett, country representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), at a programme titled ‘World Press Freedom Day 2008’, organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

“Election results have shown that voters favour participatory democracy, inclusion and change. The Constituent Assembly should guarantee the freedom of expression,” he said. “During the CA election, most of the journalists reported the happenings in a balanced and neutral manner. However, some journalists were accused of lobbying for certain parties,” said Bennett.

He added that the CA election campaigning saw 20 cases of physical attacks and 12 cases of threat and intimidation against journalists. Altogether 21 cases of violations of the right to information were reported. He demanded that perpetrators be brought to justice.”

Press freedom is critical to the stabilisation of Nepal and its transition to a full-fledged democracy, said Colin Kaiser, UNESCO representative in Nepal, adding that in two years Nepal will see a wide and certainly impassioned on the constitution and the structures to be established for consolidating democracy.

Bennett and Kaiser jointly launched a book titled ‘Voices from the Field: Press Freedom in Nepal from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to the Constituent Assembly’.