Kathmandu, Jan 2-Incidents of violation of press freedom have been increasing of late. The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) said that such incidents have gone up this year compared to last year.

The FNJ records show that 52 incidents of infringement on press freedom had occurred in 2020 whereas 62 such incidents have taken place from January 1 to 11am of December 31, 2021. One hundred ninety journalists and four media houses have been affected due to these incidents, according to Roshan Puri, the FNJ general-secretary.

The FNJ study shows that 32 incidents of intimidation on journalists and 10 incidents of professional insecurity took place this year. Likewise, 10 incidents of capture and obstruction, five incidents of attacks on journalists, four incidents of detention of journalists and one incident of policy-level restriction have been reported this year.

Nepal Press Union (NPU) president Badri Sigdel said that the incidents of violation of press freedom could be minimized through the full implementation of the provision of full press freedom enshrined in the constitution.

Overall, this year too journalists and media have become the victims of threats, attacks and mistreatment by various sides taking over news content or in course of collecting news. Journalists and media have been facing such incidents when writing and disseminating news on corruption, irregularities and anomalies.

Similarly, journalists have sustained injuries when police have resorted to baton charging while gathering news on protest demonstrations organized by various groups.

Acts of barring the journalists from collecting news about public programmes continued this year also. Journalists are prohibited and prevented from reporting the meetings of the parliament, the parliamentary committees, swearing-in ceremony for ministers or the general conventions of the political parties.

Press Centre Nepal president Bishnu Sapkota stressed on the need of amending or revising the Acts and Regulations related to mass communication media that are in the process of formulation on the basis of the suggestions from the bodies concerned.

Various laws that aim to restrict press freedom have been made and registered in parliament at federal, provincial and local level. As a result, the concept of full press freedom ensured by the constitution has faced challenges, said the FNJ. “Journalists have been affected by COVID-19 this year too. So far since the infection took place, 26 media-persons have lost their lives to this deadly virus with 21 in 2021 alone,” said Puri.

The number of incidents against press freedom has declined in 2021 as compared to 2020. The year 2021 witnessed 59 cases against press freedom as opposed to 96 in 2021, according to an annual media report prepared by the Freedom Forum, an NGO working in the field of democracy, press freedom and right to information in Nepal.

Three hundred fifty journalists have faced hardship in one year during the infection. They were denied salaries or made to stay on an unpaid leave or kicked out of their job at the hand of media owners in the name of the virus. Of them, problems of 300 have been resolved and the FNJ is taking initiatives to sort out that of 50, it has been said.

By Auther