Nepal joins new UN initiative protecting journalists

UNESCO launches journalist safety project in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: UNESCO

7 June 2013 – The United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today launched a new project in Nepal aimed at increasing the safety of journalists and ending impunity in the crimes against media and media professionals, while also contributing to the overall peace effort in the country.

“Journalists play an essential role in the peace process. But they must be safe to be able to provide people access to non-partisan information,” said Axel Plathe, Representative of the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to Nepal and the Head of UNESCO Office in Kathmandu.

“Continuous aggression against journalists and media persons and the impunity in many cases of press freedom violations and violence against journalists continue to threaten the still fragile peace process,” Mr. Plathe stressed.

The new two-year initiative is part of the “UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.” As endorsed by the UN Chief Executives Board in April 2012, the new action plan’s global overview outlines a series of activities to be put into practice.

The focus includes: helping Governments develop laws on safeguarding journalists; raising awareness so that citizens understand the damage done when a journalist’s rights to freedom of expression is curtailed; providing training courses for journalists in safety; establishing real-time emergency response mechanisms and strengthening the safety of journalists in conflict zones, among others.

It also calls for enhancing protection for women journalists in response to the increasing incidence of sexual harassment and rape, decriminalizing defamation offences and encouraging adequate remuneration for full-time and freelance employees.

In Nepal, UNESCO and its partners will work with professional journalists associations, international media rights organizations, human rights organizations and security and judicial bodies, to establish a nationally owned independent mechanism to provide appropriate framework to tackle the issue of journalists’ safety and impunity.

The project will be funded at $566,500 by the UN Peace Fund for Nepal.

The UN agency will also work with national partners to build the capacity of security and judicial institutions to protect journalists, and build up the ability of journalists to protect themselves.

More than 100 journalists around the world were killed in 2012, making it the deadliest year for media since the agency began keeping records on the issue, according to UNESCO.

Nepal is the latest country to join the UN Plan of Action. South Sudan was the first State to adopt the plan in February.


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