By Kumar Prasad Chaulagain
The World Press Freedom Day has been celebrated across the globe on May 3 since 1993.
Member nations of the United Nations have started marking the day once the UN General Assembly proclaimed it in 1993.
According to UNESCO, it celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, assesses the state of press freedom throughout the world, defends the media from attacks on their independence, and pays tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Today a special event is taking place in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa under the aegis of the United Nations. The day is important because the Declaration of Windhoek Conference held in African country Namibia was adopted on May 3.
The main focus of the conference was an independent and pluralistic press. The Windhoek Declaration is a critically important international document as its reliance is still high today.
It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom – a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.
There is a global trend that journalists are being suppressed from both state and non-state side.
Hundreds of journalists have been killed while performing their duty. Thousands of them have suffered injury and come across mental torture. The incidents of imprisonment, detention, threat and obstructions are so frequent which have shrunk free and independent journalism practices.
Nepal also has been celebrating the day since 1995. Today too, Nepali press is walking on the tightrope.
As many as 104 anti-press incidents occurred in the country during the period from May 2018 to May 2019. Over 158 journalists were directly affected in the incidents.
This year has seen almost one and half fold rise in the press freedom violation incidents compared to last year (66).
At a program organized to mark the World Press Freedom Day in the capital on Thursday, FNJ Chair Govinda Acharya said press freedom has witnessed increasingly difficult time with the rise in the anti-press incidents.
The constitutional provision of full press freedom has not been transformed into practice when the major political parties did not become sensitive to the freedom of the press.
With the growing expansion of the internet, the number of internet-based news outlets/portals has increased sharply.
The latest update on the number of such news portals listed by Press Council Nepal is over 1,600.
The environment has become further challenging to freedom of expression with growing surveillance on digital media.
Likewise, FNJ’s former Chair and Freedom Forum Executive Chief Taranath Dahal called for ensuring full press freedom in practice while stressing for robust collaboration among the stakeholders and defenders of free expression and the freedom of the press. RSS