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People of Nepal are unable to enjoy World Press Freedom Day, says CEHURDES

(CEHURDES/IFEX) - May 3, 2010 - The world is observing Press Freedom Day today. The Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES) takes this opportunity to honour the media workers in Nepal and the world.

The people of Nepal who have been waiting for a democratic constitution, sadly, are unable to experience the appropriate environment. The political parties entrusted with the responsibility of delivering the constitution on time are, instead, heading towards confrontation. As a result, the country is sure to suffer the prolonged transition and weakened prospects for peace and democracy.

Free press and human rights are the foundations of democracy. If the constitution is not delivered on time and the process is pushed to uncertainty, then it is certain that the principles of democracy and human rights will be violated. Those who are against press freedom would then be emboldened, jeopardizing peace and democracy. CEHURDES wants to urge the parties to immediately focus their attention toward preserving the achievements of the people's movement and institutionalizing peace and democracy. As only 25 days remain before the date stipulated for constitution promulgation, CEHURDES ascertains that it is necessary for the parties to adopt the constitutional path to end the prevailing atmosphere of uncertainty.

Looking back at the past one year, discord among the parties were frequent. Consequently, not only could the anti-democratic and anti-peace elements get the space to play, but free journalists and media entrepreneurs also became victims of targeted attacks. The owner of television station Channel Nepal, Jamim Shah, was killed in broad daylight in the capital in February. A month later, the director of Radio Today FM based in southern city of Janakpur, Arun Singhaniya, was killed. In the last year, 169 incidents that were anti-press freedom were recorded. Two people were killed while 28 suffered physical assaults. There were 95 incidents of threats and misconduct. Likewise, there have been 15 incidents of interference in publications and 19 incidents of capture of property and violence. Four journalists were displaced from their areas of work. The state arrested four journalists. We are saddened that even after the establishment of peace and democracy, the free media is facing such attacks. We believe the prevalent culture of impunity is the main cause behind this sorry state. This culture flourishes in the name of transition. Therefore, in order to end the culture of impunity, it is important to free the country from this state of transition. This calls for agreement among the parties and the promulgation of constitution that guarantees a free press and human rights.

CEHURDES urges all parties to create an environment conducive to steering the country on a democratic course, and promulgating the new constitution. We also demand that they promulgate the constitution by including the guarantee to free press and human rights in the document.

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