Freedom Forum organized a multi-stakeholders’ discussion on July 30, 2019 in Kathmandu with an objective of updating the stakeholders on the contemporary challenges of Freedom of Expression and policy resolution to address those challenges.

Toby Mendel, a renowned international expert on freedom of expression, was the keynote speaker who briefed about international standard of freedom of expression referring to article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Seeking, imparting and receiving information should be guaranteed for exercising freedom of expression regardless of frontiers, to any individuals and medium as well, he added.

Media is seen as an intermediary to assure freedom of expression and information. Self- regulation is the basic model of media regulation. Other regulatory mechanisms also exist though such mechanisms should be free from government interference, Mendel further said.

He said media diversity is another aspect, which needs to be promoted in terms of ownership, structure and contents. Licensing and registration can be acceptable for broadcasting, but not legitimate for the print media as per the international law, he added. Mendel also highlighted media rights in regard to federalization. He suggested broadcasting should be under the jurisdiction of the federal government while the regulatory provision for the print and other media should remain with the provincial and local governments.

Commenting on the bills like Information Technology, Advertisement, and Media Council related to freedom of expression, he pointed out various flaws such as unconstitutionality, ambiguous provisions, vague words,government-dominated structure and laws made without necessity. Out of 55 participants, there were 17 females as well as 18 parliamentarians from the federal parliament and state assembly of Province 3 plus other stakeholders.