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Press freedom in Nepal still under threat despite hopes for improvement on return to democracy

Nepal's policemen stand as journalists, left, protest in front of the parliament in Katmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, December 24, 2008. Nepal's newspapers ran blank editorials to protest an attack on a newspaper office by activists linked to country's ruling Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Reporters and staff members at Himal Media were beaten up and the office was also vandalised by former communist rebels who accused the media group of publishing stories criticising their party.Photo: Associated Press (AP) / Binod Joshi

Press freedom in Nepal continues to face serious threats despite the hope that restoration of democratic rule would improve the situation.

The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) recorded a staggering 342 press freedom violations in 2008 alone, including a significant escalation in the number of physical attacks on journalists and media houses. Four journalists—Uma Singh, JP Joshi, Birendra Sah and Pushkar Bahadur Shrestha—have been killed since 2006. The International Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression Mission, which visited the country from February5-8, has called on authorities to undertake prompt, independent and impartial investigation of these and all other cases of murder and disappearances of journalists.

Another journalist, Prakash Singh Thakuri, has been missing since July 2007. Late last year, the government withdrew charges against the accused, who had been released earlier on bail. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal assured the International Mission that the case would be reopened. The Mission also called for an investigation into the killing of Dekendra Thapa, after his remains were found last year.

The International Mission is also deeply worried over the attacks on media houses, including Kantipur, Himal Media, Ankush Daily, Ramaroshan FM and APCA Group. Such attacks on media workers, publications and property are unacceptable. Those responsible must be held accountable for their actions. Any substantive grievances over work conditions must be addressed through dialogue and negotiation.

The International Mission is concerned that due process is not being observed in the cases against Rishi Dhamala, Ram Subhak Mahato, Birendra KM and Manoj Mahato. The reported abduction of Pankaj Das in Birgunj while the International Mission was in the country must be swiftly followed-up by the authorities, the Mission members say.

The International Mission was represented by ARTICLE 19, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Media Support (IMS), International Press Institute (IPI), Reporters With0

Date posted: February 10, 2009 Last modified: May 12, 2018 Total views: 46