Kathmandu: Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Purna Bahadur Khadka said on Monday the incumbent government has accorded high priority to the press freedom. Speaking in a program on ‘internet and fake information in Nepal: challenges to democracy and freedom of the press’ co-organized by the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), the Political Science Association of Nepal and the Nepal Telecommunications Authority, the minister said constitutional and legal arrangements have been made to safeguard and promote the press freedom and freedom of expression. “The mention of the full press freedom in the preamble of the constitution of Nepal and the provision of the right of communications and information as a fundamental right has made it clear that the state has highly prioritized the freedom of the press,” he said. “We must always commit to the implementation of these rights in a right, balanced, impartial and responsible manner.”
He expressed his commitment to doing his best to create the necessary legal and political environment for the effective implementation of the concept of the press freedom as mentioned in the constitution. He also said that the government is at work to make the internet platform orderly, respected, safe and useful for life while respecting the freedom of opinion and expression of citizens. “The government is always aware and alert about the right use of the rights of citizens as specified by the constitution. For this, I want to assure that the government in coordination and consultation with stakeholders including the FNJ to make and amend required policies and laws,” he said. Mentioning that the press freedom survives only if democracy survives, he stressed that it requires a democratic environment for the expansion of internet. “A country without democracy cannot have press freedom, neither internet expansion takes a pace. Nepal is a country which has provided not only opportunities offered by internet, but also has connected internet with the life of people. The incumbent government will not deviate from this policy.”
Similarly, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission Top Bahadur Magar said although internet has facilitated life, its limitlessness has added challenges. Stating that false, incorrect and confusing information has caused social and religious conflicts, he said failure to differentiate right information from wrong one has made the matter worse. “False information has breached the right of citizens to get right information, all should focus on stopping false information. Not only have the users, false and misleading information affected the media,” he said. Similarly, stating that the inflow of false information is increasing, Ambassador of the United States of America Dean R Thompson called for all experts to know about what the right information is.