Freedom Forum has been alarmed over the grilling of editors of national dailies by the Press Council Nepal (PCN).
PCN, a government body mandated to regulate media content, on August 17, grilled Gunaraj Luitel, Chief Editor of the Nagarik daily, and Akhanda Bhandari, Editor of the Annapurna daily, in a sheer breach of its jurisdiction.
If there is any concern on media content, PCN can draw the attention of the editors, analyse whether the news is against journalists’ code of conduct, and if so, it can urge the media not to violate the code. But, grilling, threatening, and taking action is not its’ jurisdiction.
Such move in democracy is a blatant misuse of authority to harass journalists and discourage free media.
To this, FF Executive Chief, Mr Taranath Dahal, observes, “One after another, the government activities and the activities of its agencies in the recent time have been emerging hostile to free media. Harassment by the government agencies to editors is not only detrimental to editorial freedom but also panics entire media fraternity.”
The incident has coincided with the day the new Civil and Criminal Codes have come into effect. Such misuse of State agencies is counterproductive to democracy system. At a time when the entire Nepali media fraternity has already been panicked over the new Codes that have the provisions which criminalize the freedom of expression, investigative reporting, privacy and others, such overture of PCN is certain to erode democratic norms and values.
FF, therefore, strongly urges the PCN to work in line with its jurisdiction and respect democratic culture and not to spread panic to media.
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