In the wake of growing press freedom violations and increase in the cyber crime endangering freedom of expression online, Freedom Forum (FF) organized the 3-day training cum workshop on Freedom of Expression and Media Law, so that the active legal practitioners from across the country could be further aware on media related laws and constitutional provisions on FoE and garner skills to litigate the cases in favor of citizen’s FoE and press freedom.

During the program held in Budhanilakantha of Kathmandu from 16 to 18 August, 20 advocates- two each from seven provinces and 6 from the Kathmandu Valley totaling 20 – took part to learn the national and international provisions and standards on Freedom of Expression (FoE), privacy, cybercrime, journalist safety and impunity for crime against journalists.

Among 20 advocates, 7 were female advocates.

The advocates were encouraged to pay attention to the FoE practitioners whose rights had been violated and were in need of legal help.

The training cum workshop was facilitated by FoE experts and senior advocates including Taranath Dahal and Ramkrishna Nirala, and Internet Society Nepal Chapter Chair Santosh Sigdel, advocates Sanjeev Ghimire and Tanka Aryal, expert on cyber law and internet governance, Baburam Aryal.

The training made aware the participants about the separate and common constitutional rights of the federal, provincial and local levels relating to media and communication as per the changed context. Cases relating to FoE and press freedom were explained before them.

The pressing and pertinent issues arising around Electronic Transaction Act 2006 (Section 47 and 48), which has frequently been used to harass and arrest journalists was explained in detail. The trainers/facilitators made the advocates aware and imparted skills how they could litigate in favour of citizens’ right to FoE with proper use of related laws on FoE, media and press freedom.

The participants also practiced the moot court on the third day of the training.

Freedom Forum Executive Chief Taranath Dahal observed, “The training served as a platform to establish a network of lawyers across the country which would help journalists in need of legal support. The litigation skills and knowledge imparted on legal provisions has empowered the lawyers to work for the protection of citizen’s FoE and journalists’ safety.”

Similarly, one of the participants from province 1, Mr Narayan Dahal, said, “Now, I’ve felt capable to represent the case relating to media and journalists. With the growing use of internet, the FoE needs to be protected, for which the skills and knowledge I got here would be fully utilized in my area.”

Another participant Mrs Gita Koirala from Karnali province viewed, “I used to take the cases related to women rights. But, this training boosted my confidence that I would be able to properly handle the cases related to journalists, press freedom and freedom of expression.”

Similarly, Mr Ram Bilas Yadav from Province 2 underscored, “In the changed context of federalism having three tiers of governments, there are various legal provisions enjoyed by different level of governments. This training educated on it and encouraged us to work for media freedom and journalists’ rights. I will talk with journalists in length about the training. It helps boost relations between advocates and working journalists.”