Kathmandu: Nepal recorded a decline in the number of incidents related to press freedom violations in 2021, states a report.
Freedom Forum, an organization working for the protection and promotion of human rights and press freedom, said it recorded 59 press freedom violation incidents directly affecting 83 media persons this year. A total of 96 incidents related to press freedom violations were recorded last year and 111 in 2019.
Although the press freedom violations declined this year, the hostility to media and journalists did not subside, Freedom Forum said in its ‘Annual Media Report 2021’.
“Although the number of press freedom violations this year decreased as compared to the previous year, present data states that press freedom is still under threat in Nepal, reads the report.
A total of 58 incidents were recorded where 82 journalists are directly affected. According to the data, more than 40 percent of the violations are targeted against online media.
It reflects the gradual shift of media persons from print or other traditional media to online media. This migration of media persons may be related to the digitalization of the media owing to the crisis due to Covid-19 pandemic, according to the report.
The highest cases of violations of press freedom were recorded in Bagmati Province having the federal capital. Among 29 violations of press freedom, more than 45 journalists were affected. The majority of the incidents have occurred in the capital city Kathmandu due to the high concentration of media.
The data also shows that media persons face a major threat from security persons and government employees in Nepal. As many as 29 percent of journalists faced violations from security persons and 17 percent from government employees, according to the report.
The report further states that several incidents relating to attacks on media persons while covering protests were witnessed this year. This indicates low-ranked security persons are in dire need of orientation on rights of press and training to differentiate press persons from mob while taming the protest, the report said.
The misuse of Press Council Nepal is another worrying trend that continued this year too, according to Freedom Forum. Instead of promoting professional media practice by regulating the content of media fairly, Press Council Nepal has been time and again suspending and blocking media over critical views to government, states the report.
With the country having elections in three tiers within a year, misuse of media and intimidation of journalists may erode media credibility and dent democratic culture, Freedom Forum said in the report.
“Monitoring of press freedom along with untiring watch on public agencies and officials to hold them into account should be a regular work,” the report suggested.