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Nepal Government Promoting Impunity

Freedom Forum has been seriously concerned over a recent decision of the government effort to withdraw the murder case of the UCPN-Maoist's lawmaker, Bal Krishna Dhungel.

Yet again, the government led by Maoist Vice-Chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai appointed Surya Man Dong, one of the accomplices in the murder of Arjun Lama of Kavre district as a minister of state for energy.

Both of these decisions of the Maoist-led government have created a furor and grave concern in the sector of human rights. These ill-efforts of the UCPN-Maoist have debunked the real behavior of the Maoist which is almost against human rights and democratic norms and values. The government has mocked the rule of law thereby promoting impunity in the country.

Maoist lawmaker Dhungel, hailing from Okhaldhunga district, had shot to death Ujjan Kumar Shrestha of his district on June 24, 1998. Following the incident, he joined the Maoist revolution to fend off the punishment.

However, the courts from district level to the Supreme Court; he has been convicted of the crime. The Supreme Court had already decided to imprison Dhungel throughout life with the confiscation of properties for his direct involvement in the killing of Shrestha.

Similarly, another lawmaker of the same party hailing from Kavre district, Dong was involved in the murder of Lama on April 29, 2005.

These incidents have come in a series of Maoist's failures to be true to their repeated commitments on human rights in spite of embarking on mainstream politics and signing numerous peace agreements.
It is not the first time the Maoist did so, the erstwhile government led by Jhalanath Khanal (CPN-UML leader) had also appointed a Maoist leader Agni Prasad Sapkota as the Minister for Information and Communication who also was involved in the murder of Shrestha in Kavre district.

To sheer mockery of rule of law, human rights and justice, a meeting of the Council of Ministers even dared to make a decision to request the President to award general amnesty to the culprit Dhungel in spite of sending him behind the bar.

With the International Day of Impunity being observed across the globe, Nepal is undergoing such situation.

It vividly depicts how the rule of law, democracy, human rights and justice are suppressed and violated in Nepal by the political parties thereby promoting impunity. Freedom Forum strongly urges the government to withdraw its request to the President to condone Dhungel and sack state minister Dong and send them behind bars.

........... ...
Taranath Dahal
Chairman
Freedom Forum

   

Media House Vandalism-Violation of Press Freedom

Freedom Forum has been seriously concerned over an incident of press freedom violation occurred in capital city, Kathmandu, on September 4, 2011.

A group of unidentified persons came on five motorcycles entered the office of the Naya Patrika national daily at Kamalpokhari, searched editor and started vandalizing randomly.

Deputy General Manager of the national daily, Bharat Pokharel told Media Monitoring Desk of the Freedom Forum that nine unknown persons barged into the office at 10:30 am, snapped the telephone wire, smashed computer and broke down editor's desk, other furniture and window pane over a crime-related news the paper published the same day. The paper had published the news - 'Three held with sword' on its third page.

A group of youths led by Vice-president and Secretary of Nepal Students' Union of Kathmandu-based Pashupati Campus Chabahil - Rajan Shrestha and Raj Kumar Sigdel - was allegedly involved in vandalizing office in the name of refuting news.

"Whether the vandalism was carried by any organization of political party or by any gang of goons, it is against press freedom and freedom of expression. It has not only challenged the security of media and journalists, but also suppressed people's right to information", said Freedom Forum Chairman Taranath Dahal, adding, if it was the case of twisting news content the innocent side could take legal recourse rather than rowdy way for justice.

He further demanded the state authority to fairly investigate into the incident and bring the guilty to book so as to check impunity.

Moreover, the incident shows the media in the country is not spared even in the Capital city where people expect better rule of law, and order. Similarly, it has created terror among the journalists that they are bound to work in an insecure atmosphere thereby practicing self-censorship. The recurring incidents of press freedom violation have badly afflicted the journalists. As a result, the empowerment of the media and media person is lagging behind.

Freedom Forum again urges the government to create safe and secure environment for the media persons to carry out their works so as to protect people's right to information. The Forum also urges journalists to flow accurate, balanced and credible news to maintain its watchdog role so that its content does not create controversy.

---------------
Narayan Ghimire
Media Officer
Freedom Forum
September 5, 2011

   

FF Welcomes Release of Suu Kyi and expresses solidarity for more freedom

Freedom Forum Nepal welcomes the release of Myanmar's pro-democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest on Saturday. The release of long-time freedom fighter who has spent 15 of the past 21 years in detention has been a matter of happiness for all democrats and freedom-loving people.

Suu Kyi is an icon of resistance against the military regime of Junta that has put her in detention for raising voice for democracy and freedom in Burma.

Her unflagging courage and unswerving commitment for people's fundamental rights has been a source of inspiration in the South East Asian nations and the entire world as well to engage more efforts for the consolidation of democracy.

It as a 'first step' of Myanmar's authority towards recognizing basic fundamental human rights. However, there are lot of things to be done to ensure democracy and freedom in Burma. Freedom Forum demands the unconditional release of all political prisoners, who have been detained just due to their political belief.

"We are confident that the release of Suu Kyi will contribute to efforts for a more inclusive approach to political change and bring more liberal values and freedom in Myanmar's politics."

People of Burma should get chance to determine their destiny through democratic means. Since democracy is a matter of global concern, Freedom Forum expresses its solidarity for all freedom fighters of the Myanmar and calls on the Burmese government to respect unalienable rights of its citizens in line with international standard.

Likewise, the recent election that was accomplished without engaging the political parties is the mockery of democracy. Such unfair and restricted election does not genuinely represent the people and their aspiration. Disallowing international press and election monitors has made it clear that it was not undertaken as a norm of democracy rather to legitimize the autocratic regime of military.

Freedom Forum also urges the Nepal government to articulate support and solidarity to the democratic movement of Burma on behalf of the nation and its people.

We wish for the grand success of struggle being waged for the reinstatement of freedom in Burma.


Tara Nath Dahal,
Chairperson
November 14, 2010
   

Press Release-July 20, 2009

Government Policy and Budget Lack Focus on Media Reform

Freedom Forum expresses its serious concern over the government's apathy towards bringing concrete initiatives on media reforms issue for which the Forum has been engaging its efforts through Agenda for Change (AFC) for the last two years.

The government has failed to realize the urgency of bringing timely reforms in media laws and policies since its policy and programme and budget for fiscal year 2009-10 have not brought out any progressive measures for the enhancement of free press and freedom of expression.

It is regrettable that the government remained tightlipped towards formulating long-term development goals and strategies to resolve the problems of working journalists and guarantee professional safety and institutional security of media persons and house.

"Issues such as effective monitoring of the implementation of Working Journalists Act (WJA), Right to information Act, appointment of Press Registrar, social security schemes for journalists, development of public service broadcasting authority, amendment of the press and publication act and national broadcasting act as well as change the government-owned media as a public media are some of the genuine issues not dealt by the government's policy and programme and budget this year.

However, Freedom Forum welcomes the government's policy of exempting the renewal fee of radio FMs and Televisions, doubling the spending under Public Welfare Advertisements, instituting fund for the welfare of senior journalists and providing relief to journalists injured and killed during insurgency.

The Forum urges the government to implement the provisions in an effective and efficient way and remain sensitive enough to reckon the essence and importance of media sector reform in line with the AFC recommendations prepared by Freedom Forum including Federation of Nepali Journalist, Article 19 and other experts and organizations.

.....................
Taranath Dahal
Chairperson

July 20, 2009

Development
   

Press Releases

New government must safeguard freedom of expression, stress ARTICLE 19, FNJ and Freedom Forum

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - London, 1 June 2009 - ARTICLE 19, along with the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and Freedom Forum (FF), congratulate Madhav Kumar Nepal on his election as Prime Minister of Nepal. Furthermore, we note that freedom of expression remains under serious threat in Nepal and call on the new government to take decisive steps to stop attacks on journalists and to establish a legal framework which fosters a free flow of information and ideas.

"ARTICLE 19, FNJ and Freedom Forum strongly urge the new government of Nepal to protect media workers and to bring to an end the climate of impunity for the perpetrators of attacks. There is also an urgent need for structural and legal change to protect freedom of expression. This is necessary for the government to demonstrate in practice its stated commitment to democracy," says Taranath Dahal, Chairperson, Freedom Forum.

We specifically call on the new government to implement the Agenda for Change, a publication launched by ARTICLE 19, FNJ and Freedom Forum in February 2009 that contains a comprehensive set of recommendations for freedom of expression reform in Nepal. Key priorities, in addition to protection of media workers, include:

- Taking steps to implement properly the Right to Information Act 2064, including establishing appropriate procedures within all public bodies for processing requests.
- Implementing the Working Journalist Act 2051, including putting in place an effective monitoring system.
- Adopting a new broadcasting law which puts oversight of broadcast regulation in the hands of an independent body and putting in place a fair system for licensing, including for community broadcasters.
- Transforming the existing public broadcasters into public service broadcasters.
- Abolishing criminal defamation and adopting new civil defamation rules which are consistent with international standards in this area.

ARTICLE 19, FNJ and FF also urge the government do all that it can to ensure that the new constitution provides strong protection for freedom of expression, in line with international standards.

"An Agenda for Change: The Right to Freedom of Expression in Nepal" is available in English at: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/publications/nepal-agenda-for-change.pdf
   

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