The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu organized a five-day long training of trainers (ToT) for working journalists on 'Right to Information (RTI) and Investigative Journalism' in partnership with the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and the Citizens' Campaign for Right to Information (CCRI). The training, held from 15 to 19 February 2014 in Nagarkot as a part of the European Union funded project "Empowering people to enjoy their rights to information for greater accountability of Nepal's power holders", was attended by twenty working journalists, including seven women.
The objective of the training was to help journalists understand the Right to Information Act and its utilization for investigative journalism.
Speaking at the opening session, Amita Vohra, Officer-In-Charge of the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu said, “The Right to Information allows journalists to play a better role as a fourth state, thus closely watching the actions of government and proactively seeking and publishing correct and timely information to the people through the media”. "We believe that this training will help journalists to know more on issues related to right to information, subsequently imparting that knowledge to the local journalists through trainings and mobilize them to conduct investigative reporting and make state agencies accountable”, she added.
During the opening session Yosada Timisina, Vice-president of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, highlighted the importance of the Right to Information Act for investigative journalism in Nepal. In turn, Tanka Aryal, the Executive Director of the Citizens' Campaign for Right to Information (CCRI) pointed out that civil society organizations have been working to ensure the right to information, and advocating to make state authorities fulfill their responsibility to provide public information.
The training sessions, led by Miranda Patrucić, an international trainer, were also facilitated by a group of national experts. Patrucić delivered modules on contemporary issues regarding investigative journalism and the right to information, while Dr. Ram Krishna Timalsena, a right to information expert, facilitated a session on the importance of public records and their link with the right to information. Vinay Kasajoo, a former Chief Commissioner of the National Information Commission of Nepal, focused on national and international practices of using the right to information as a tool of investigative journalism. Taranath Dahal, a right to information activist, presented an overview of the status of the right to information in Nepal, and Laxman Datt Pant, of the UNESCO Kathmandu Office, delivered a presentation on the protection of news sources and the safety of journalists. The event was coordinated by JB Bishokarma, project coordinator of the EU funded project focused on the right to information that UNESCO is implementing.
The participants in this training of trainers will organize trainings for 250 journalists in the Eastern Hills and Central Terai, to enhance capacity of local journalists on the right to information and investigative journalism. The trained journalists will utilize the Right to Information Act for their investigative journalism, which will support the strengthening of democracy and enhance accountability from public officials.