Leaders of various political parties have pledged to lobby their party lawmakers to make amendments to the laws that restrict press freedom.
A free press is essential for a democracy to thrive and to ensure public accountability, they said at a programme organised by the Federation of Nepali Journalists in the Capital on Sunday.
The leaders sympathised to the concern raised by journalists and writers regarding the provisions in the Criminal Code, 2074 BS, and Civil Code, 2074 BS, that limit press freedom.
Pampha Bhusal, leader of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, said her party is committed to press freedom, and in favour of amending the laws that restrict free press.
“Press freedom is an important feature of democracy. It strengthens democracy. So we are ready to take the initiative to amend the laws that limit press freedom,” she said.
Nepali Congress leader Minendra Rijal called for a separate law to protect press freedom.
Besides, he said the press should also be serious about strictly implementing the code of ethics and conduct to curb irregularities in journalism.
Federal Socialist Party Vice Chairman Rajendra Shrestha and Rastriya Janata Party- Nepal leader Laxman Lal Karna said both their parties wholeheartedly support a free press, and said the restrictive laws should be revised.
Shrestha said Nepal should learn its lesson from those developed democratic nations where press freedom is highly regarded.
Editor-in-Chief of Kantipur daily Narayan Wagle said the provisions about press incorporated in the Criminal Code and the Civil Code reflected the state’s negative mindset towards the press.
“The public will never get to know the truth when the press is working under censorship,” he said, adding that free press and democracy complement each other.
Senior journalist Harihari Birahi claimed that even the erstwhile Panchayat regime was not so harsh on press as the current government has shown itself to be.
FNJ Chairman Govinda Acharya and journalists Kiran Nepal, Kamal Giri, Saroj Adhikari and Nitu Pandit, among others, called for an environment where journalists and writers are allowed to work without fear.