Nepalese media, which claims as a main proponent of current political change, has been facing tough time to retain freedom of press and freedom of expression. Beginning from the promulgation of Civil Code Act two year ago, couples of new acts at central level and similar kind of acts at provincial level and rural and municipal level have already passed aiming to restrict the journalists. However, media did not take a notice. Divided on the basis of party ideology, there are greater divisions among journalist associations and media houses. Taking advantage of this divide, the government, at all three levels, have passed the acts against freedom of expression. With the rise of social media, online portals, there are countless incidences of misuse of media defaming individual personalities as well. However, government cannot justify its move to bring harsh acts to contain the media on that ground.
As the two third majority government led by Nepal Communist Party-Nepal Communist Party has been ruling the country, proponents of free and independent media are feeling a threat. Since forming the government, the government has made several efforts to contain and curtail the media freedom. It imposes several conditions to issue the accreditation to journalists. A new advertisement law is in place with few clauses enough to control the flow of information. Despite growing pressure from media affiliated organizations including Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Nepal Media Society and other right organization, the government on May 9 has registered a new bill in the Parliament proposing to impose a fine up to Rs 1 million on media outlets, editors, publishers and journalists if they were found guilty of damaging someone’s reputation. The bill also proposes punishment for violating the code of conduct which includes suspending accreditation of media persons and downgrading the classification of media outlets. We do believe that free and independent media are foundation of democracy. Survival of democracy depends upon healthy media. As the pressure continue to grow, we do hope that the government will make necessary amendment in the bill consulting with all stake holders to guarantee the freedom and independent of Press. However, our cover story for this week is about the state of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in rural Nepal. There also include other regular column and political commentary as well.