DECEMBER 29, 2008  A deal was signed on Sunday between Minister for Information and Communications Krishna Bahadur Mahara and president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) for protection of press freedom and guaranteeing security of the journalists and media houses.Minister Mahara was assigned by the government to hold talks with the journalists for resolving problems in the face of the journalists' protest against the series of attacks against the media houses and journalists by cadres of labour unions in different places of the country.

The government talk team led by Minister Mahara and FNJ talk team led by its President Jha had held dialogue for three days from December 24.

According to the understanding reached between the two sides, the government will express commitment in the Legislature-Parliament for creating an environment for the protection of press freedom, for fully guaranteeing security of media persons and the media houses and for building environment under which the journalists will be able to work without any hindrance.

 Similarly, the government will take initiatives for getting all the political parties to make public their views regarding the press freedom and also assist the political parties to take legal action against their cadres involved in attacking press freedom. The political parties in the government will also express their commitment to that end.

A joint press release undersigned by the convenors of both the talks teams states that a focal point would be established at the Ministry of Information and Communications for addressing the incidents related to the violation of press freedom and that this focal point will take the initiatives for having the information about the infringement of the press freedom received from the FNJ and other media-related organizations promptly implemented by the concerned agencies of the government.

It is also stated that a task force comprising the representatives of the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the FNJ for recommending a long-term policy on press freedom and security of the journalists.

The FNJ has welcomed the process initiated on behalf the government for taking action against the people found guilty in incidents that have taken place in different parts of the country in the recent days including the incident of attack on Himalmedia office in Kathmandu and Ankush daily in Birgunj.

According to the understanding, the government will express commitment to take legal action against the guilty of incidents that took place in Dadeldhura, Achham, Dolakha, Sindhuli, Kavrepalanchok and other places and to provide compensation to the victims.

Likewise, it is stated that the government and FNJ will stake initiation to bring both the trade unions and the management to talks in connection with resolving the labour disputes seen at different media houses and the reinstatement of the journalists and the labourers expelled in recent days.

 Expressing sadness over the  incident at Maitighar Mandala, both sides agreed to wish speedy recovery of FNJ Secretary Ramji Dahal, express commitment to take action on the guilty police personnel, appeal the concerned to publish Kantipur Daily and The Kathmandu Post daily's eastern edition and urge the concerned sides to resolve the problems in APCA House and Kantipur's Pokhara Regional Office.

The agitation called by the FNJ will be called off from today and the agreement will be implemented within seven days.

The agreement was signed by Minister for Information and Communications Krishna Bahadur Mahara on behalf of the government and Chairman Dharmendra Jha on behalf of FNJ.

Freedom Forum welcomes the deal and urges the governent to be serious towards implementing the agreement in an effective and effecient way at the earliest.

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Freedom Forum
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