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Media and Public Security in Nepal

Organised by Nepal Press Union (NPU)

2 May 2013, Kathmandu

Report Prepared by

Chandra Shekhar Adhikari
Senior Correspondent, Annapurna Post Daily
Central Committee Member of NPU: Email: journo.shekhar@gmail.com

Coinciding with the World Press Day Nepal Press Union ( NPU) organised one day interaction programe on the role of media in promoting public security on 2nd May, 2013. Public security in Nepal, in recent times, seems have weakened. It ha The main problem on the security in the present situation is to be aware within the family. Strike and protests have been seen as a culture of the country which is the main cause of threat of the country. To address the issue, NPU organized the program in collaboration with Freidrich Ebert Stiftung, (FES) a non profit, private education think tank, committed to the concepts and the basic values of democratic socialism. FES was founded in 1925 in Germany for freedom, justice and solidarity, based in Kathmandu.

More than hundred active journalists were participated in the program and two senior journalists submitted the different working paper. Yubraj Ghimire, Senior journalist and columnist and Former President of Federation of Journalists (FNJ) Dharmendra Jha presented paper on Influence on private and public security and Journalist Security in Nepal.
Chief Guest in the Program, Nepali Congress Central Committee member Dr. Shekhar Koirala and another central committee member N. P. Saud also highlighted the Media and Public issues. Former President of FNJ and Nepal Press Union, Secretary of FNJ and other senior Journalists were participated in the program.

Inaugural Session

The Central Committee member of Nepali Congress Shekhar Koirala, as a chief guest said that plans are underway to keep Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist and Upendra Yadav-led Madeshi Janadhikar Forum-Nepal out of the electoral process, and it is still in doubt over CA elections in November. Chairman of UCPN (Maoist) Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madeshi Morcha want these political forces out from the polls process, Koirala said in the inaugural session.

Concerning on political and technical hurdles, Koirala claimed that a conspiracy is being devises to keep those forces away from electoral process to determine that there is no constitution in place. "Elections can take place but writing a new constitution will be a difficult task," Koirala said. On the issue of security of media persons, Koirala said that only a strong democracy and nationality can ensure the safety and high professionalism of the media people. "Unoccupied nationalism and democracy cannot meet the challenges deriving from this sector."

Another leader of Nepali Congress N. P. Saud said that press freedom cannot be expected if political parties themselves set up media. Journalists should think themselves what they can do together than expect from the state can do to them.

Head of FES Nepal office, Dev Raj Dahal said that violence has been decentralized because of the weakness of the state. He said that the role of media lies in connecting the society, not dividing them.

Chairman of the Freedom Forum and former President of Federation of Nepali Journalists, Taranath Dahal claimed that 35 journalists were killed in Nepal during the last 12 years. Amongst them nine were being killed due to content of news published in their respective media. He added "the media sector faces more aggravation when the state becomes weak and media is weakened when the state becomes authoritarian."

Paper Presenting and Discussion

While presenting his paper Ghimire pointed out in the paper that a citizen should fulfill his/her own duty and responsibility; however, the environment should be determined through the government. Voting rights is the right of a citizen in the country which is included into his national responsibility. National security is the security of a citizen. The image of the country becomes more superior when a citizen feels secured inside and outside of his/ her own country. Public insecurity is the opposite condition of insecurity of the country. In the present context, the chief justice and the prime minister is the same person in the country. The rights of judiciary and the government(karyapalika) within the one person brings unbalanced in itself, that badly effects in public security. There will be a conflict arises if the judiciary is criticized by the public as the politicians are always badly criticized by the people. Such situation creates a different environment over the public and starts seeking the justice with the help of 'Don' of the society. Not only with the public rather would individual have the security problem if such atmosphere continues for a long time.

Ghimire's paper further stated that the activities of foreign countries' role will be vital into the country that creates a big question towards the security of whole nation. The country is moving towards into this situation after 2062/63's public movement. The feeling of keeping the political parties themselves over the nation has brought the situation like this what we are facing nowadays. Their bad effects direct seems on journalism, nevertheless, journalism itself is divided; some of them seem very loyal to politicians and some are in neutral. Senior journalist Ghimire further said that the role of parties and the leaders play an important role to establish democracy in the country whereas parties always seem above the nation and leaders above both the state and institution that should not be to run the democracy. He further stated "This has gradually eroding the judiciary and other institutions, hurting the credibility and authority of the state which has ultimately led to the political and constitutional void. At this point in time foreign forces have started playing up their welfare and interest, cutting down the role of citizen and journalists. At this moment where such kind of insecurity is spreading fast, parties should be accountable for the establishment of internal democracy, defining the national and international policies. There's a need for common understanding on the issue of foreign policy as well as security."

Another paper presenter, former president of FNJ Dharmendra Jha said that ensuring security to journalists was the first condition to maintain press freedom in the nation, which is still not secured here. "Searching to establish code of ethics for journalists would be meaningless if the state fails to ensure their security," Jha said.

He further added that the state should be responsible in ensuring journalist's rights. He pointed out that journalists were not able to disseminate news independently and freely. "The rights of the journalists cannot be ensured unless the state assumed the responsibility of ensuring safety to the journalists, "said Jha.

"The attack over the journalists does not point out the attack over the only one people, rather it is the attack over the 'flow of information. The state has almost stopped to control the press freedom since the establishment of Democracy. Nevertheless, the state has not able to punish those who control the press and journalists.

He further added that journalists could be realized the freedom and independence of press unless security rights of the journalists maintain. The allegation against the journalists charged by the state was unacceptable and claimed that the state had failed to create a secured environment for the journalists. "Transition can affect over the whole nation, however does not affect the press," he said and added that journalists were always in forefront in following laws and rules in the nation. Furthermore Journalists were also used by the government as jasjus. The most dangerous point for them is to be used by others in the name of their good relationship in different sectors; some journalists might have very good relationship with Police and Army, some may have with diplomats. They might be misused for the sake of one's vested interested. Journalism is an institution where everybody should show their respect and should be treated as an institution, however it should not be misused for one's self. A number of journalists are displaced in our own country, the country must be responsible for it and the government should create a friendly environment to work for them.

Kiran Pokhrel, president of Nepal Press Union emphasized on the importance of trade union. He stated that NPU, Press Chautari and Nepal Revolutionary Journalists Union will set a new trade union of journalists if Federation of Journalists does not convert itself into a trade union. Journalists themselves must be more responsible in his/ her works. Every journalist should have the feeling of a citizen of the country and then the profession. Therefore, they must be liable to the nation, democracy and other rights. Considering on the nation interest, the news should be balanced. so many journalists are not secure in his and her works. The new comers are using media only as a platform in the present context. The investment of Political parties in media sector has made less influence and weaken the security situation of journalists.

Active journalist Binaya Devkota stated that Nepali Press is promoting criminal activities. Priority of the issue of 'Don' in newspaper and electronic media has made the public threat in the society. Instead of making dismiss the issues of such criminal activities, such publicity has become an easy medium to make the 'Don' super in the society.

Veteran Journalist and political bureau Chief of The Himalayan Times Arjun Bhandari said," Almost Editors in our media are not responsible for readers and journalists they seem always worried about their owners. It has made the journalists unsecure in the society. He clearly said that media is running by business men rather than journalists. Because of this reason, the media people are facing different hassles.

Editor of Deshantar weekly, Kabir Rana told that every journalist have to be affiliated with his loyal party and then full fill his parties' interests. Nepal does not have enough Democratic Parties. Only the cadres of democratic parties seem able to work to extend the democracy. The security of journalists is depended upon the strong democracy in the country.

Jagat Nepal, Secretary of FNJ said that some journalists write news based on the money given by leaders and business men. This is how we can not imagine the free and fair journalism during these days. One of the main reason is keeping every journalists in the same basket is because of these bitter truths.

Anita Bindu, a prominent News reader of Nepal Television opined that journalists must follow the case until the victim get justice. The news will not be commendable if the media people cover the issues only in a surface level. Whereas, there is no practice at all in the media sector to go through on deeply on the news. That has created the major problem to the public to feel secure in the society.

Junar Babu Basnet from Gorkhapatra Daily gave more emphasis in the economic sectors of Nepal that has become more pathetic recently. Our country is running by remittances, nevertheless, we are not going to systemize on it. This social issue should be addressed by journalists.

Govinda K C, Journalist From Dailekh addressed the government and focused the point of its weaknesses. As a displaced journalist, he was displaced only because of writing news against the government. However, there is no any initiation from government's side to journalists. They have not shown even sympathy to them. This is the unsatisfactory part of the government, he emphasized more. In the program, Journalists Bishnu Nisthuri, Bisnu Budhathoki, Kul Chandra Wagle, Badri Sigdel, Hemanta Kafle, Lekhnath Panday, Nakul Aryal, Anil Giri, Khila Bhandari, Asok Dahal, Sailaj Nepal, Balkrishna Adhikari, Karun Dhakal etc spoke about public and press security.

Objectives of the program

  • The government must assure the security of journalists.
  • To develop the nation, social security is must.
  • There should be press freedom to provide the social security.
  • Journalists are also responsible for the people, nation and the democracy.
  • After the restoration of democracy, many acts of press freedom have not been implemented.
  • The government could not show its responsibilities towards the journalists after they displaced from their own working place.
  • There is no any attractive part in the journalism field because of these reasons so that many new comers are getting frustrated gradually.
  • Media houses should be governed by the journalists but not by the business men and politicians.
  • Financially the journalism field is so weak. They are not able to get their salary on time. Very few of media houses are providing the salary on time.
  • There is need of a strong Trade Union which can work for the journalists' rights.
  • Wrapping up: Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES highlighted the importance of journalism in this critical situation. Every citizen must be loyal to the nation; journalists are also the citizens of the country and they are also equally accountable to build the nation, whereas, the situation must be conducive by the nation itself.
  • The participated politicians also put emphasis on the issues of security of journalism and realized the improvement in the future from their side too. Press and democracy are interlinked and one can not move without another. The role of press to make the democracy strong is vital, they further added.
  • Hence, media is the empowered sector for the voice less people; it has the connectivity with social sector too. For that reason, media should be free and fair. It must not be guided by any other elements.
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