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Journalists' unions and press-freedom groups from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal have launched an action plan aimed at strengthening independent journalism and press freedom and improving media safety in the region, reports the International Federation of Journalists' Asia-Pacific office (IFJ).

Representatives of Nepal's Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES), the Free Media Movement of Sri Lanka and the Bangladesh-based Media Watch joined more than 30 colleagues from the region in Nepal recently for a workshop on building unions' capacities for human rights and conflict reporting. It was hosted by the Nepal Press Union and the National Union of Journalists (Nepal).

The action plan tackles four main areas: 1) improving journalists' safety; 2) improving working conditions for independent journalism and professional co-operation; 3) strengthening awareness of human rights, diversity and conflict reporting issues in newsrooms; and 4) improving assistance programmes.

It calls for national courses on safety training, the translation of safety training manuals into local languages and their distribution to all newsrooms, and the publication of country reports on press freedom and journalists' safety each year on 3 May (World Press Freedom Day).

The plan also envisions regional campaigns on press freedom issues by coalitions of groups and the preparation of a publication and resource guide on journalism and conflict in South Asia.

IFJ says a follow-up regional conference will be held within two years to assess progress. The workshop was funded by Germany's Friedrich Ebert Stiftung foundation.

Visit these links:

- IFJ Workshop Proceedings:">">

- CEHURDES' 2002 Report on Press Freedom in Nepal:">">

- Friedrich Ebert Stiftung:

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