Where does Nepal stand in press freedom?

Journalists stage a protest against new laws that threaten to curb media freedoms.(File photo/AP)

Rhishav Sapkota

  • Read Time 2 min.

Kathmandu: Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based international non-profit and non-governmental organization, released the 2021 World Press Freedom Index in April this year evaluating the situation of press freedom in 180 countries and territories.

Nepal ranked at 106th, Norway 1st while Finland and Sweden stood at 2nd and 3rd positions respectively.

For Nepal, it is a jump of six ranks from last year’s 112nd position. The report, however, claims that this rise can’t be attributed to measures that strengthen press freedom but was caused by a rise of disinformation in other countries.

According to the report, the index reflects rapid erosion of the ability of individuals to access true information and an increase in obstacles for coverage of news globally. 

Media watchers say Nepal’s standing in press freedom is not impressive.

Nepal marked the World Press Freedom Day on May 3.  The UNESCO has chosen ‘Information as Public Good’ as the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

Media watchers say Nepal’s standing in press freedom is not impressive. “Our press freedom hasn’t increased as it should have. Impunity, incidents of legal actions, and physical attacks on journalists don’t promote press freedom,” said Taranath Dahal, Executive Chief of Freedom Forum and an advocate of press freedom in Nepal.

A Nepali journalist has his mouth wrapped with a piece of black cloth during a protest against a new set of laws that threaten to curb the media in Kathmandu, Nepal. (File photo/AP)

Commenting on the report of ‘Reporters Without Borders,’ he said Nepal’s rise in ranking wasn’t necessarily due to measures the country took to ensure press freedom. 

Dahal also said that the COVID-19 didn’t allow journalists to go investigate in the field which is why they didn’t face as many institutional hurdles as they would in normal times.

He argued that the government has used Covid situation as a pretext to limit access to information and movement of journalists. 

Journalists in Nepal are facing multiple challenges as many of them have been displaced due to the Covid-19 pandemic and many media houses have not paid them salaries.