Thursday, September 07, 2006

Int'l media mission recommends reform in media laws

The visiting international media mission has recommended the government of Nepal for extensive amendments of media laws to strengthen the press freedom and democratic values.

During a press conference at the end of the its visit in the capital on Thursday, the mission said it was hopeful of its recommendations being implemented by the newly formed democratic government.

"We have received commitments from the government, political parties and the Maoists towards press freedom and freedom of expression, which we hope will be translated into practice," said Executive Director of the International Media Support, Jesper Hojberg.

The mission has recommended that the provisions in the draft interim constitution relating to freedom of expression and of the media be comprehensively reviewed and amended to ensure that they provide strong protection of fundamental rights.

The mission further recommended for comprehensive reform in the media laws, reform of the state media, guarantee the right to access information and initiatives to improve the conditions of working journalists.

"Provisions in Nepalese law are unduly restrictive of freedom of the media," the mission said and recommended changes in the provisions like defamation of criminal offences on charge of writing news.

The government media should be privatised or transformed into public service media with guarantee of structural independence and protection from potential interference, the mission said.

The mission has expressed its concerns over the climate of impunity on attacks on journalists even after the restoration of democracy and urged the government that the Working Journalist Act 1995 be comprehensively reviewed and amended to ensure that it can effectively achieve its objective of improving the working conditions of journalists.

The third mission had arrived here on Sunday for five-day visit to access the situation of press freedom here after the success of April uprising. The members of the mission include ARTICLE 19, Free Voice, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Media Support (IMS) International News Safety Institute, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF), Open Society Institute, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).

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