Freedom Forum has reminded the government that the UNESCO Director General had inquired about the status of impunity relating to crimes perpetrated against media persons in Nepal.
FF talked to the Joint Secretary assigned to look after human rights issues at Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Minister (OPMCM) recently in Singha Durbar and made him aware that UNESCO Director General had written to Nepal government to know whether the government activities had addressed or were addressing the issues of impunity pertaining to the killings and disappearance of media persons since 2006 to 2016.
The Joint Secretary was not only made aware of the letter but also about the report FF produced: Legal Status of Journalists Killed and Disappeared from 1996 to 2016 in view of the letter that urged the government to consult this report.
Also, the government was informed about the Sustainable Development Goal no 16 (10) which has mentioned well about citizen’s access to information and the atmosphere conducive to media freedom.
During the talk, the Joint Secretary said they would discuss the matter and would reply accordingly.
The draft of the letter UNESCO Director General was to write to Nepal Government as mentioned by the IFEX was–
Puspa Kamal Dahal
Prime Minister of Nepal
Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Minister
Singhdurbar, Kahtmandu, Nepal
Bidhya Devi Bhandari
President of Nepal
Foreign Minister of Nepal
H. E. Ms Ambika Devi Luintel
Permanent Delegate of Nepal to UNESCO
IFEX, the global network of 108 organisations working to promote and defend freedom of expression worldwide, including in Nepal through our local member Freedom Forum Nepal, writes to you regarding the UNESCO Director-General’s 2017 request to provide information on the status of judicial inquiries into the killings of 7 journalists condemned by the Director General in Nepal from 2006 to 2016. We also encourage you to be forthcoming on general measures being taken to promote the safety of journalists and to combat impunity.
The biennial Director-General’s report was commissioned by the International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC) as a means for States to demonstrate their commitment to addressing crimes against journalists and media workers by providing detailed information on the steps being taken to achieve justice and end impunity.
In the Council’s 30th session, it was resolved that the report would also serve as a monitoring mechanism for tracking progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 16.10 on access to information and fundamental rights, which UN member states unanimously adopted. In the same decision, it was noted that the report’s value would be further strengthened through the collection of information on good practices.
We are concerned by the fact that since 2011, Nepal has not responded to a single request for information made by the Director-General. We strongly encourage you toreconsider this trend of silence and submit the relevant updated information to UNESCO, also granting them permission to make it publicly available. Being an interim reporting year, your response will be included in both the upcoming 2017 World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development reportas well as the 2018 report on The Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity.
Since 2006, more than 800 killings of journalists and media workers have occurred worldwide. In over 90% of these cases, the perpetrators have gone unpunished. This type of extreme unchecked violence is the ultimate form of censorship and severely curtails the flow of information necessary for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic society to flourish. The culture of impunity that has developed around this issue only makes it more likely that such crimes will continue to occur. For this reason, the issue of impunity for killings of journalists is one of the greatest threats to freedom of expression and information worldwide. For more information on how this issue has manifested in Nepal, please see Freedom Forum’s recent study on impunity for media killings dating back to 1996.
To ensure that your efforts are documented in the relevant reports, we call on your government to demonstrate your leadership and accountability by making your submission to UNESCO before 30 May 2017. In so doing, you will be helping to improve political will to address violence, building a global repertoire of best legal practices, and showing that attacks on freedom of expression in Nepal will not be tolerated.
We look forward to your response to this letter and to seeing updated information on the cases mentioned above made public in the relevant reports and on the UNESCO website. For more information visit:
Executive Director of IFEX