Freedom Forum released its annual media report 2022 on December 31, 2022. The report states that total 45 incidents of press freedom violations occurred in Nepal, where 120 journalists were directly affected.
Compared to the previous year, the number of violation is declined, but the number of affected journalists increased, to which the report, has mentioned as a worrying trend.
Among the total affected journalists, 109 are male and 11 female journalists. The report further stated that there was little progress in addressing impunity on crimes against journalists while the hostility meted out to journalists went abated. “Absence of FoE and press freedom friendly law and policy, interference in media by the constitutional body, increased cyber surveillance against media persons, and flood of fake news were major trends recorded,” the report stated, adding that the year however remained an election year for the successful conduct of election at three tiers of governments.
The press freedom violations were categorized as arrest/ detention, attack/ manhandle, obstruction/ vandalism, threat to life, and misbehavior. The number 0f obstruction and vandalism combined stand highest, 56, which is followed by attack/manhandle, 28. Similarly, 18 journalists were affected with misbehavior while 13 with threat, and five arrest and detention combined.
As per province, the Bagmati Province has highest number journalists affected, 44; which is followed by Madhes Province with 42. The Gandaki and Lumbini Provinces each has the number of journalists affected at 11. The last year recorded the least number of journalists affected in Province-1 as it witnessed only two incidents of violations. The Karnali Province and Sudurpaschim Province had the journalists affected 7 and 3 respectively, the annual report revealed.
The report has also welcomed the Janakpurdham High Court’s verdict of life imprisonment to the murder convict of media entrepreneur Arun Singhaniya as a positive update on long pending case of impunity. The court issued the verdict on September 21, 2022. The High Court sentenced life imprisonment to the suspended lawmaker and former Minister of State Sanjay Kumar Saha who was declared the mastermind of the murder.
Executive Chief at Freedom Forum, Taranath Dahal, observed, “The case of journalists killed and made disappeared during the conflict time could be taken to the regular court under criminal offense rather than transitional justice mechanism, but this demand went unheard this year too.”
The issues of information disorder with spread of fake news and need of digital capacity building are stressed by the report.
Dahal points out the need of political tolerance and CSO’s activism to ensure the journalism a safe profession and create safe free-speech environment in society. “Political will and commitment can contribute to FoE friendly media law and policy environment in the federal and provincial levels as per constitutional spirit and international standards,” he said, adding that a balanced approach of fair election and free press could make democracy functional and sustainable.
Full report can be downloaded here: