Sunday, February 8, 2009

Call for comprehensive freedom of expression reform

Call for comprehensive freedom of expression reform

ARTICLE 19, Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and Freedom Forum hosted a major conference yesterday in Kathmandu launching their joint publication, An Agenda for Change: The Right to Freedom of Expression in Nepal. The document was launched at a conference bringing together leading figures from all of the main political parties, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, ambassadors, members of the International Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression Mission to Nepal, which coincides with the conference, and a wide range of local stakeholders and international groups.

“The Agenda for Change Report represents the culmination of a year of intensive activity by the three lead organisations, ARTICLE 19, FNJ and Freedom Forum, working with a group of expert local stakeholders,” said Toby Mendel, Senior Legal Counsel, ARTICLE 19. “It sets out comprehensive recommendations for freedom of expression in Nepal, which should serve as a authoritative framework for reform in this area.”

The Agenda for Change addresses all of the key challenges facing freedom of expression in Nepal, providing in-depth analysis and over 60 concrete recommendations for reform. Some of the key recommendations are:
_ The guarantee of freedom of expression in the new constitution should conform to
international human rights standards, including by applying to everyone and by setting
out a clear and narrow test for restrictions.
_ The authorities should take immediate and robust action to protect journalists, a
particularly pressing need in the current environment in Nepal.
_ Steps should be taken to implement the Right to Information Act in an effective manner
which ensures public transparency and accountability.
_ Comprehensive reforms should be introduced to establish public service broadcasting and an independent broadcast regulator, promoting pluralism and the public interest in the airwaves.

ARTICLE 19, FNJ and FF call on the Nepalese authorities to take steps to honour the
commitments they have made to implement the Agenda for Change. Specifically, we call on them to put in place mechanisms to this end, among others a dedicated parliamentary committee on freedom of expression reform.

_ The Report is available in English at:
_ _________ ________________ _________________________:

For more information, please contact
Toby Mendel, Senior Legal Counsel, ARTICLE 19,, +977 98039 68987, Dharmendra Jha, President, Federation of Nepali Journalists,, +977 98510 71459, or Taranath Dahal, Freedom Forum,, +977 98510 87891.

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