Press freedom violated in 2004, says SAFMA report

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 17:

The media monitor South Asia report 2004 said that during the year both the government and the Maoists were involved in violating press freedom and preventing journalists from defending their rights in Nepal. The report, that was released today, said that about half a dozen journalists were killed, scores were tortured, injured and arrested for the executing their duty honestly. The report prepared by the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), indicated gross violation of press freedom in South Asian countries during the year. “The Federation of Nepalese Journalists and other media bodies played an important role in defending media freedom and resisting the pressure on media persons and media organisations,” the reports stated.

The report also said that Nepal and Bangladesh topped the list of unsafe countries as six journalists were killed in each country, followed by India and Sri Lanka where four each were murdered and one in Pakistan. The report reads: “The fact of the matter is that no state in South Asia, with varying degrees, is ready to accept the adversarial role of media as a watchdog of civil society, nor has any state come up with an effective law to ensure the fundamental right to information.” The media continue to be swayed by respective establishments in the name of national security, national interests and by adversarial nationalism, it further added. Meanwhile, a report from Lahan said president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Taranath Dahal, today called upon all to extend cooperation in the fight for press freedom as it is the must to strengthen peace and democracy in the country.

Speaking at a seminar on ‘Current status of journalism in the districts’, organised to mark the 4th anniversary of the Purba Saptahik, at Lahan, Dahal urged all not to use the mass media for a one-sided propaganda. “The media is being attacked by formulating different laws in different districts in the name of suppressing terrorism. The role of Nepali press should not be viewed only as a professional matter but the civic society needs to support the campaign for press freedom,” he said. Vice-president of the eastern chapter of the federation, Yagya Sharma, said that a society can not be imagined in the absence of the press and freedom of expression. Various other speakers also stressed for the freedom of the press.