The International Federation of Journalist (IFJ) condemns the two latest attacks on the media ahead of the Constituent Assembly elections in Nepal on April 10.
According to the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), an IFJ affiliate, members of the Young Communist League (YCL) threatened Nepal 1 TV journalist Nabaraj Pathik at Manthari, the district headquarters of Ramechhap in eastern Nepal, on April 7.
Tika Bhatta, president of the FNJ’s Ramechhap chapter, reported that Pathik was threatened in regard to a television report about an attack by YCL cadres on an election worker in Ramechhap. In threatening Pathik, the YCL members allegedly asked him not to repeat such reporting.
In another reported incident on April 7, YCL members seized the printing facility of the weekly Sindhu Prabaha in Chautara, the district headquarters of Sindhupalchowk, near Kathmandu. According to Pabitra Kumar Khadka, the president of the FNJ’s Sindhupalchowk chapter, members of the group also stole printing plates and copies of the publication.
The FNJ is coordinating monitoring of media rights violations via its country-wide branch offices in an effort to ensure the safety of journalists and media freedom with regard to reporting on the elections. FNJ local monitors have been trained to negotiate in any conflicts regarding media rights, safety, transportation difficulties, access to information and information dissemination.
As part of its monitoring work, the FNJ has established an emergency line for its more than 8000 members and a hotline for documentation of media rights violations.
The work is being conducted in collaboration with representatives of an international monitoring mission which includes IFJ representatives.
Meanwhile, smaller political parties have voiced concerns about the presentation of reports in state-backed media operators with regard to the election and major parties. The Election Commission (EC) has asked Radio Nepal to stop airing its Ghatana Ra Bichar program after complaints that the program violated the EC code of conduct for media coverage during the election. The code is intended to prevent propaganda, bias and hate speech.
The IFJ joins the FNJ in condemning the attacks and urging authorities to investigate the incidents and take appropriate action in accordance with the law. They also called on the EC, Nepal’s caretaker government, political parties and security personnel to ensure that journalists have full access to information and are not subject to harassment and intimidation.
“Members of political parties, other groups and the general public need to be made aware of the value of freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the right to information,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park. “Free, secure and responsible reporting on the elections is an essential component of securing peace and democracy in Nepal.“
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries