Dear Chairman Dahal,
We would like to express our grave concern about the continued violations of human rights and undemocratic actions against members of the press. During the Mission’s meeting with senior leaders of the CPN (Maoist) on March 22, the central committee members assured the Mission that the party had utmost respect for freedom of expression and the right of journalists to move around without impediment in the pursuit of their professional duties.
In the light of these assurances, we are concerned about ongoing incidents of harassment of media professionals. We refer in particular to the intimidation of Lav Dev Dhungana, president of
Federation of Nepalese Journalist (FNJ) Panchthar branch at Ranke, border between Ilam and Panchthar district, on 31st March. The incident reportedly occurred when Dhungana, a freelance reporter, tried to take photographs of Maoists collecting money from vehicles on Mechi Highway.
Maoist area-in-charge, Deep reportedly threatened Dhungana, who was detained for one and a half
hours on allegations of "spying". This occurred despite Dhungana proving himself as a
journalist and president of FNJ Panchthar Branch. He was intimidated, and his identity card and diary were also snatched.
Such incidents should be condemned in no uncertain terms. Freedom of expression is one of the pillars of democracy, and cannot be compromised under any circumstances. Diversity of views must be allowed to flourish and an independent press encouraged, for any vision of democratic pluralism to be realised. This would also be in keeping with your recent 12-point agreement, and the resolve to respect human rights principles and freedom of the press articulated in Section 8.
We welcome your declaration of unilateral ceasefire and halting of “military actions” in the Kathmandu Valley with effect from the evening of Monday, 2 April and urge you to extend the ceasefire to other parts of the country in order to facilitate a peaceful and democratic resolution of the ongoing conflict in Nepal.
We urge you to clarify your position on the abovementioned incident and ensure that the respect for press freedom and journalists’ rights is transmitted down to all party members. Any transgressions of these rights must be dealt with in order to send the message that the party is committed to international standards of human rights and freedom of expression.
Members of the International Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression Mission to Nepal.
The fifteen international organisations participating in the mission included:
· ARTICLE 19
· Free Voice
· International Federation of Journalists
· International Freedom of Expression Exchange - IFEX
· International Media Support
· International News Safety Institute
· International Press Institute
· Press Institute of India
· Reporters sans Frontières
· South Asia Press Commission
· United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation - UNESCO
· World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters - AMARC
· World Association of Newspaper
· World Press Freedom Committee
This statement has been drafted by the International Federation of Journalists, on behalf of the International Mission.
For further information, please contact:
Thomas Hughes - IMS Deputy Director
Phone: +45 32 69 89 89
Faruq Faisel - IMS Mission Coordinator
Phone: + 977 1 4490063
Laxmi Murthy, Program Manager,
International Federation of Journalists, New Delhi,