NHRC urges government to respect freedom of press, expression

6 June 2020, Kathmandu

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged the government to bring short term, midterm and long term plan and programs for the journalists’ safety.

Issuing a press statement today, NHRC Spokesperson Bed Prasad Bhattarai has said such programs are essential to control misbehavior and violence against journalists.

The payment to working journalists and their access to information need to be ensured, Spokesperson said, adding that a total of 22 journalists reporting and monitoring the lockdown faced spate of intimidation- arrest, attack, threat and misbehavior.

“They were also denied information by the government offices; some of them did not get payment and faced condition to quit the profession and many media were bound to close service. It not only deprives citizens of their right to information but also the expression,” the statement added.

The human rights watch body has further urged the government to manage well the quarantines set up in a bid to control and prevent the spread of coronavirus across the country.

In the wake of increasing coronavirus infection, the crisis is likely to deepen. The quarantines set up in various districts including Jhapa, Rautahat, Parsa, Sarlahi, Saptari, Kapilvastu, Banke, Dailekh, and Kanchanpur have failed to maintain minimum standard, thereby ignoring protection of human rights.

The government’s attention has been drawn to fulfill its responsibility to protect citizen’s fundamental rights and human rights enshrined in the constitution. Everyone staying in quarantine needs to be tested for coronavirus via PCR method, NHRC stressed.

COVID-19 pandemic has so far claimed the lives of 11 persons and infected over 2900 in Nepal. Currently, there are more than 167,000 people staying in quarantine in Nepal.

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