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Right to Voice: Promoting media freedom of expression in Nepal

This project provided journalists in Nepal with forums where they could discuss the causes of self-censorship with authorities, and together generate ideas for improving freedom of expression.

Through systematically documenting attacks and threats made towards journalists, it enables human rights defenders to hold perpetrators to account for their actions.

The project also advocated for a more inclusive media sector in Nepal, which doesn’t ignore the voices of marginalised communities. This is important because the media in Nepal is mostly controlled and operated by elites, who often don’t understand the interests or concerns of these communities.

By promoting these excluded voices and reducing threats facing journalists, the project aimed to contribute to greater media freedom of expression and pluralism in Nepal.

The project was successful in establishing six Free Media Networks (FMNs) in project districts and in training over 155 FMN members. Changes related to these activities included an improved relationship and cooperation among stakeholders, strengthened information flow and changes in perception. Activities have also contributed positively to strengthening the capacity of journalists to document media right violations to hold perpetrators accountable. The project was designed in close cooperation with the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), and FNJ was responsible for implementing it to a large extent. This guaranteed ownership of the project with the local partnerprovidedmore chances of sustainability in the long run. More importantly, local ownership among FMN members ensures the sustainability of the platforms and project impact.

A highlight of the project was that the FMNs contributed to cohesiveness and increased accountability, which contributed more to freedom of expression than the reduction of threats (which the project might have contributed to but is more likely a consequence of the changing security and governance environment). For instance, journalists and other stakeholders feel more unified and stronger together, which had an impact on self-censorship. However, these positive tendencies were negatively affected by the new policies targeting media. As a result of these new policies, self-censorship is at risk of increasing again.

Find out about our new 'Safe media' project to see how we are building on the 'Right to Voice' project HERE.

This project ran from January 2016 to July 2018.