KATHMANDU, Jan 1: Even as the incidents of press freedom violations declined in the year 2021 as compared to previous years, the hostility to media and journalists did not subside in Nepal. According to a report released by Freedom Forum, a total of 59 incidents of press freedom violation were recorded in 2021, which directly affected 83 media persons.
The report states that the maximum violations of press freedom were recorded in Bagmati Province with a total 29 cases followed by Province 2 and Karnali Province with 7 cases each. The least number of incidents were recorded in Gandaki (4) and Sudurpaschim Province (4) and Province 1 with only 2 cases.
While the country has elections in three tiers within a year, misuse of media and intimidation on journalists will erode media credibility and dent democratic culture. According to the report, various forms of violation of press freedom such as misbehavior, attack, threats, obstructions, and arrest were recorded in the country, in which 20 journalists faced misbehavior, followed by attack (manhandling) against 20 journalists. Even a court case was initiated against a journalist, while seven journalists were arrested.
Likewise, it is mentioned in the report that 40 media persons, who were associated with online media, were affected by the violation of press freedom. It was followed by 16 and 13 journalists associated with radio and print media, respectively. The least number of total journalists belong to others category and television media facing seven violations each.
According to the data, more than 40 percent of the violations are targeted against online media. This reflects the gradual shift of media persons from print or other traditional media to online media. The number of online media in Nepal has reached 3,000, according to the data of Press Council Nepal. Thriving online media can also be attributed to the impact of COVID-19.
The report also suggests that more professional and enhanced practice of media is required in future to fend off media discredit with possible campaign of political misinformation and fake news in the run up to elections.