Strengthening Citizen Engagement in Anti-Corruption Efforts (STREAC)
As its name suggests, STREAC intends to engage civil society and government bodies to effective communication and dialogue regarding anti-corruption efforts. This project is led by Development Communication Society (SODEC) Nepal but implemented in coordination with Nepal Center for Contemporary Research (NCCR), Center for Media Freedom (CMF), and the Organization Development Center (ODC).
SODEC-Nepal, being a civil society organization has realized that incremental approach to changing the behavior of duty bearers, with citizen engagement in highlighting the positive and negative elements of improvements helps in tacking governance issues that Nepal faces. NCCR leads the research component while ODC leads anti-corruption media fellowship component of the project. CMF, on the other hand, is mainly leading the Anti-corruption Expert Advisory Committee mobilization. This modality ensures working with diverse range of stakeholders in general and the CIAA’s national and regional hubs in particular to deal comprehensively with the challenges related to the corruption. It enables addressing the core problem of ineffective anti-corruption efforts compounded through limited citizen engagement, dealing with shrinking or static impacts of the initiatives on broader institutions related to corruption and promoting feedback loops to reinforce voices and translate policy provisions into realistic actions against corruption.
A two pronged strategy of addressing limited understanding of the CIAA and the processes to engage in anti-corruption efforts amongst general public; and inadequate communication between CIAA officials and citizens will be utilized by this project.
Towards the end, the project envisions key areas of initiation from civic education in anti-corruption (e.g. mobilizing students from the campuses) to media mobilization against corruption and from researches on corruption control measures with examples from Nepal and the world to provision of expert inputs to CIAA to combat corruption.
The project duration is total of 30 months (1st February 2016- 31st July 2018) and is Facilitated by Gvernance Facility (GF).
The main objective of the project is to establish sustainable modalities of anti-corruption efforts with the broader change expected or anticipated beyond the project period.
STREAC basically aims at promoting new or improved anti-corruption systems, institutions and civic engagement mechanisms and further strengthening the existing ones. The impact will be achieved through modalities established for forward backward linkages with CIAA: CIAA to the general public through media and civil society collaboration, and back to the CIAA via improvements in the broadcast of citizens’ voice and mechanisms of dialogue that the project will establish.
This outcome is expected to be achieved through the successful implementation of four key project interrelated components: civic education in anti-corruption; anti-corruption media fellowship; anti-corruption researches; and civil society anti-corruption advisory intervention. The inter-relationship between these interventions in itself is an innovative approach to tackle corruption.
The project is implemented nationally with special attention to five districts, Doti, Surkhet, Kaski, Makwanpur, Dhankuta where CIAA has direct presence through its regional offices. The project is mainly executed from Kathmandu.
To fulfill the project objective and to achieve the desired output; to increase the engagement of general public including campus students in anti corruption efforts and an active engagement of CIAA-civil society, the project has incorporated following implementing tools;
- - Package and distribute instructional materials on anti-corruption issues to the students in campuses throughout the five working districts of the project
- - Information on anti-corruption issues to be disseminated through national and local media
- - Increase the skills of journalists in anti-corruption issues reporting through various workshops and fellowship programs
- - Disseminate the evidences on implementation status of anti-corruption policy and social accountability measures generated from the research reports for policy influencing on anti-corruption efforts
- - Enhance the capacity of CIAA in combating corruption
Engaging State Agencies to Address Impunity: Initiative to Minimize the Practice of Self-censorship among Nepalese Journalists
An enabling environment is required for the journalists to practice their freedom of expression and decrease the practice of self-censorship. Such environment will flourish journalism through understanding how the self-censorship can impede journalists' access to information and the public awareness on right to information. Likewise, the journalists would be clearly able to assess the consequences of censorship. This will ultimately result in appreciation of freedom of expression and actions oriented to better the socio-political society and contribute in development of the country. The role of state agencies, judiciary, civil society and public is important in creating an enabling environment for protecting freedom of expression.Show More
Therefore, this project has analyzed the role of each sector in facilitating freedom of expression and decreasing the incidence of self-censoring ensuring the safety of the journalists. Minimizing the degree of impunity is a positive step towards the press freedom. It reduces the self-censorship which is linked to the promotion of freedom of expression and press freedom as well.
The overall goal of this research is to highlight the way forward for enabling environment to minimize the practice of self-censorship, ensure safety and promote freedom of expression among the Nepali journalists. The specific objectives are:
- To study the state of impunity undermining freedom of expression and self-censorship despite constitutional guarantee of journalist safety in Nepal during post conflict time.
- To assess and analyze the root causes and consequences of impunity through situational analysis of 35 murdered and four missing journalists.
- To identify the reasons behind weakening of such cases with no legal solution and pressurize authorities to take remedial measures against the perpetuators to minimize impunity.
Broadly there were three activities of the project which were research, book publication and organizing national seminar. Brief description about each activity is presented below;
- 1. Research: In order to fulfill the objectives of the study, review of related literature was carried out; the available information on cases related to risks to journalist and impunity through various media, publications, organizations and individuals were documented and analyzed. The interview and interaction based information investigated the concept, the possible practices of impunity and its relation to self-censoring, the likely causes of impunity and the role of government, non-government agencies and civil society. These interviews and interactions contributed significantly to the publication of the book.
- 2. Book Publication: As per the agreement, the book is published in Nepali Namely “Nepalma Dandahinata, Abibykti Swatantrata Ra Patrakar Surksha Ko Paripreksha”( Impunity in Nepal in Reference to Freedom of Expression and Journalist's Safety ). The book is provides a brief introduction, objectives and limitations of research in the mentioned subject. The publication deals with various concepts of impunity, also relating it to the Nepali context. It also examines the legal status of missing and dead journalists and the causes and effects regarding the crimes against journalists. The book also recommends various measures to minimize impunity.
- 3. National Seminar: A national seminar with 61 participants (police, judiciary, prosecutors, lawyers and journalists) was organized to address the challenges in promoting freedom of expression and minimizing self-censorship on 2nd November 2015 to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crime against Journalists in Kathmandu.
The project was facilitated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which was formally completed on 18th November 2015.
Analyzing the National Media Safety Landscape for Journalists
The safety of journalists is considered an important human rights issue in itself. Moreover, it is considered central to the realization of freedom of expression in broader context. The issue of journalists’ safety is critical to their being active agents in social and public life for the promotion of freedom of expression. If journalists cannot exercise the freedom of expression in safety, any provision that guarantees such freedom is of little value. In fact, ensuring journalists' safety is one of the significant aspects of vibrant democracy.Show More
As the United Nations specialized agency with a mandate to 'promote the free flow of ideas by word and image', the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been an important player in the promotion of the safety of journalists and the fight against impunity. Over the years, it has been monitoring the safety of journalists and state of impunity, and has published reports about this on a regular basis. It has put the focus on the issue of journalists’ safety through various declarations, resolutions, reports, and activities.
This final report presents an assessment of the national media safety landscape for journalists in Nepal. The study has employed the Journalists' Safety Indicators endorsed by the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
Employing the Journalists' Safety Indicators (JSI) endorsed by the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, a study has been conducted for an assessment of the national media safety landscape for journalists in Nepal. Based on the assessment, a set of key-recommendations for each of the key indicator categories of the JSI has been presented in addition to the report.
Though there is a huge growth in terms of quantity in the media sector journalism remains professionally weak and economically insecure, and the journalists are in highly vulnerable condition in terms of physical and psychological safety. Nearly half of the journalists do not have any appointment letter/contract from their employers, and journalism profession in Nepal is characterized by low wages, irregular payments, poor working conditions, and declining credibility among the public. Journalists perceive that they are prone to be victimized by both State and non-State actors, and the prolonged political transition has further complicated their security situation.
The status of women journalists is even more complicated. They are more vulnerable than their male colleagues in terms of professional as well as psychological and physical safety. It is widely acknowledged that women journalists have been facing various problems including exclusion, glass ceiling, gender pay gap, and harassment, and they are more vulnerable than their male counterparts. They are particularly at risk from sexual harassment even within media organisations, and there is a culture of impunity around sexual harassment.
Impunity has been very serious concern of the stakeholders addressing journalists’ safety in Nepal. Some media rights activists even fear of systematic impunity. As prompt, independent and efficient investigations of crime against journalists have not been ensured, and prosecutions for violence and intimidation have not been carried out against full chain of actors in violence and threats against journalists, the faith on State agencies including the criminal and civil justice system is diminishing. Prevailing impunity in Nepal poses serious concern with regard to freedom of expression and press freedom as journalists are practising self-censorship due to impunity.
The project was facilitated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which was formally completed on 28th July 2015.
GEF-SGP through Media Lens
Global Environment Facility's – Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP) was initiated by UNDP since 1992 in Nepal. Since then, more than 100 projects have been implemented in the area of biodiversity, climate change, land degradation and capacity building sectors to bring notable changes in livelihood of common people.Show More
People from different parts of the country were keenly interested to participate in this kind of public hearing and interaction programs. The production team realized that there were many issues related to biodiversity, climate change mitigation and land degradation. The program was able to find out about the improvement in livelihood of local people, income generation and positive impacts by the preservation and conservation of nature.
Based on the achievements, successes and lesson learned from the projects implemented, Development Communication Society Nepal (SODEC-Nepal) carried out production and broadcasting of the media activities which includes video documentary, project based field report, studio based TV talk shows and public hearing. All of these activities were based on diverse dynamics of the projects that are funded by SGP and implemented by different community based organizations (CBOs) and non- governmental organizations (NGOs).
The program has covered major areas of Nepal which included districts like Chitwan, Dang, Kathmandu, Kailali, Kapilbastu, Lalitpur, Makwanpur and Syangja. Different concerned people and indigenous people related to the subject were focused in the program. Participants of the program included both male and female. The program was useful in highlighting the issues such as bio-diversity, climate change mitigation and land degradation around the country. The qualitative and quantitative research was carried out during this process. The issue covered in the program is important because it highlighted the achievements of local people. Television programme production team closely consulted with SGP Nepal Office, implementing agencies and local communities i.e. beneficiaries. We tried to maximize the participation of various people in the TV programmes through vox-pops, bytes and interviews. We were careful to make the participation inclusive from gender, ethnicity and other perspective.
The project was facilitated GEF-SGP which was formally completed on 5th May 2015.