NHRC concerned about journos’ rights, condition in quarantine

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Kathmandu, June 6

The National Human Rights Commission has urged the government to ensure an enabling environment for journalists to cover issues of COVID-19 pandemic and guarantee the safety of working journalists, respecting their right to expression and press freedom.

The rights watchdog said this on the basis of 22 incidents where journalists were ‘arrested, attacked, threatened and misbehaved with’ while trying to get information or reporting about peoples’ living condition at quarantine facilities as reported by the NHRC.

It has also said that there were many incidents when government authorities refused to provide information about COVID-19. It further states that several journalists were facing the threat of loss of job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while many media themselves were on the verge of closure.

The rights body has said that if this situation continues, the time might come when people will be deprived of their right to thought and expression, press freedom and right to information guaranteed in the constitution.

NHRC, in its press release issued today, said, “It is thus the duty of the government to immediately act against all kinds of activities (intimidation, threats and misbehaviour) against journalists, guarantee smooth flow of information and ensure that journalists are paid on regular basis for their work.”

The rights body also suggested that the government seek short, mid and long-term plans to protect journalists, and guarantee fundamental human rights.

Similarly, the NHRC has drawn the government’s attention to poor management of quarantine facilities across the country. It said out of 11 persons who lost their lives due to COVID-19, nine died while they were in quarantine centres.

The NHRC expressed serious concern about more people dying in quarantine centres and said that most of the quarantine facilities were not operated as per the prescribed standards. “It shows the reluctance of the government to protect the fundamental human rights of citizens,” the NHRC said.

It further said that since the number of persons infected with COVID-19 was increasing with each passing day, the crisis had become protracted. “Therefore, the government must ensure minimum standards at quarantine centres.

The quarantines in Jhapa, Rautahat, Parsa, Sarlahi, Saptari, Kapilvastu, Banke, Dailekh and Kanchanpur, among other districts, are operating without following minimum standards,” the NHRC warned.


A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 7, 2020, of The Himalayan Times. 


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