World Journalists Condemn "Torture and Killing" of Nepalese Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists today strongly condemned the killing of Krishna Sen, editor of Janadisha - apparently in jail after being tortured - and has called on the Prime Minister of Nepal, Sher Bahadur Deuba, to immediately launch an investigation and to bring those responsible to justice.

According to reports to the IFJ, Sen was arrested on May 20 and international sources say he died, probably sometime last week, after being tortured at an undisclosed prison to make him confess to his ties to the Maoist movement and his contacts with the Maoist leaders.

"These reports, if true, are a horrifying indicator of the deterioration in the conditions for press freedom in Nepal," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "We demand a full investigation of the reported torture and killing of our colleague."

His body was handed over to his family for cremation but the authorities did not supply any information on the reasons for Sen's death. According to several sources in Katmandu he was in good health before his arrest at a house in suburban Katmandu. Sen, who police say was an official of the Nepalese Communist Party (Maoist) for the Katmandu region, was detained in an unknown place for nearly one month.

In March a Nepalese court ordered Sen's release after more than two years in prison for having published an interview with rebel leader Baburam Bhattarai.

The IFJ was told yesterday by its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of Nepal of Sen's death. There have been regular reports on the deteriorating safety and press freedom conditions of Nepalese journalists. During the last six months, local rights groups say more than 100 journalists have been arrested. Various fact-finding missions by major international press freedom groups have also revealed systematic torture and regular abductions by the security forces as well as the Maoist movement.

The journalists' arrests have created a climate of fear, and self-censorship is widespread. The IFJ is currently investigating more than 37 cases of journalists and media staff killed since January 1st 2002.