Freedom Forum has noted seriously a recent incident relating to press freedom, and is observing it closely.
On December 24, Metropolitan Police Range Office asked the online news portals www.susashannews.com, www.suvadin.com and www.muldharnews.com to provide the copies of two different performance evaluation reports of the police officer Nawaraj Silwal and its sources of the news story about the police officer.
Following this, two online news portals sushashannews.com and muldharnews.com filed a writ petition against Metropolitan Police Range of Nepal Police at Patan High Court on December 26. Editors duo Madan Bhandari and Ravi Singh Dhami filed the petition, claiming Nepal Police’s intimidation on their media ‘a kind of attack on them’.
In response to the writ petition, the Patan High Court issued the verdict on 2 January, 2018, paving a way that police could ask the journalists for the sources of the news story.
The Court, in its decision, has said no one can go beyond the article 19 of the constitution that guarantees press freedom. Letter issued by the police is only the request to cooperate with them for the investigation thus it does not curtail press freedom.
Now, Freedom Forum believes that Nepal Police can ask for help and cooperation from any sector for the investigation purpose but it must not force the media persons to disclose the confidential source of information, which may put the media person in risk.
The cooperation of journalists for investigation is expected and normal, but in the name of seeking the details of news sources, police too should maintain caution in view of the sensitivity of possible threat and intimidation on concerned media. The pressure on the media is against press freedom. Hence, FF wants to make aware the police administration not to exert undue pressure in the name of seeking cooperation from media, for the protection of confidential news sources is also the protection of media.
Together with this, FF urges media to remain aware of not quoting ‘fake news source’ to avoid bad practices, which is counterproductive to ethical media professionalism.
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