Freedom Forum is alarmed at the arrest of Deepak Pathak, editor of the Margdarshan Monthly, on the basis of complaint lodged by the Press Council Nepal (PCN), the government-owned regulatory body for media.
According to investigating official at Metropolitan Police Range, Hanumandhoka, Pathak was arrested from Tilganga Kathmandu acting on a complaint by PCN that he had vandalized the PCN secretariat on September 1 and verbally abused the officials in an apparent bid to tarnish their social prestige.
'It is very shameful and condemnable when the media regulatory body itself involved in filing case against journalist', commented Freedom Forum Chairperson Taranath Dahal, adding that the body which should be engaged in promoting journalist's right to freedom of expression has involved in the crackdown to curtail their rights.
The PCN is the statutory body to enforce and monitor code of conducts of journalists and media and to promote the culture of compliance. It is against the international norms of press freedom when it involves in arresting journalist instead of adopting legal recourse if the content covered and disseminated by journalist is not found satisfactory.
On the other hand, abusing verbally the officials in the PCN by editor Pathak, accusing the PCN of excluding his magazine from the evaluation of the classification is against the journalists' code of conduct.
The case against the classification of media is sub-judice in the PCN, the government-owned regulatory body for media.
Therefore, both PCN and the editor need to act in a professional manner and follow due process while performing their respective jobs.