Kathmandu, May 3:
Minister for Education Dinanath Sharma on Thursday said that the government was always committed to protect press freedom and safeguarding the rights of journalists.
Addressing an interaction programme entitled “Constitution Making, Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression” organized by the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day here, he said that the new constitution should drive the country toward development and prosperity ensuring the rights of the people.
“History has shown that the Nepali media has played an important role in bringing about democratic change in the country,” he said expressing confidence that the media fraternity would continue to carry out its responsibility to institutionalize democracy in the future.
Minister Sharma said that the UCPN-Maoist was in the favour of constitution that would encompass all classes, ethnicities, genders and communities and ensure their rights.
Chairman of Constitutional Committee
Nilambar Acharya appreciated the media’s effort on institutionalizing democracy, maintaining rule of law and advocating for human rights in the country.
“Free media and freedom of expression are key indicators of democracy,” he said, advising the media to remain cautious about any provision in the new constitution that would spoil the national integrity, ethnic harmony, religious tolerance and people’s rights.
Nepali Congress leader Arjun Narsingh KC said that that his party was always committed for free press.
Referring to the dispute among political parties in restructuring the state, he said that the national unity was ahead of ethnic unity and warned that the formation of ethnic provinces could lead the country towards a dangerous pitfall.
CPN-UML leader Pradeep Gyawali said that despite of having a media friendly state and society, the instances of violence on journalists had increased in recent years.
He requested the media to be responsible in disseminating news as small issues could propel hazardous consequences in the transitional phase.
Head of UNESCO to Nepal, Axel Plathe, said that media freedom could help transform society and added that the quality of journalism could not flourish if the journalists came under regular threats for carrying out their works.
FNJ president Shiva Gaule said that the use of words having wide range of meanings in the interim constitution and in proposed draft for new constitution could curtail the freedom of opinion and expression.
He also asked the government and concerned stakeholders to provide safe environment for journalists and to implement the working journalist act which would maintain the professional integrity of the journalists.
Various journalists were honoured for their contribution in journalism in the programme.
Earlier, the FNJ held a morning procession to mark the World Press Freedom Day.
The procession constituting journalists and civil society organizations started from Bhrikutimandap and went around different parts Kathmandu before converging into a rally at the same place.
Addressing the rally, FNJ President Shiva Gaunle said that media freedom and the freedom of expression were under threat even at present.