Days After Peace Accords Signed, More Press Freedom Abuses in Nepal

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is dismayed by further incidents of press freedom abuses, only days after, on November 21, peace agreements were signed between the government and Maoist leaders, bringing to an end a decade of bloodshed.

“Although the signing of the peace accord is a huge achievement, the progress on paper must be matched with real improvements on the ground,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

“The incidents of the last two weeks indicates that Nepalese journalists continue to work in uncertain conditions and their safety is still not guaranteed,” Warren said.

Media vehicle attacked
According to an IFJ affiliate, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), a group of six assailants targeted a media van and attacked its driver on December 4.

Local reports said the group posed as Maoist cadres and attacked the vehicle, which belonged to Kantipur Publications and was on its way to Chappara carrying press materials.

They also reportedly beat the driver for over 10 minutes and claimed that Kantipur Publications was disseminating false news, the FNJ said.

TV program abolished
Nepal Television (NTV) reportedly cancelled Sarbajanik Sunuwai, after it aired a program on November 27 about the pros and cons of the recently passed Citizenship Act.

According to the FNJ, authorities questioned program chief, Laya Sangroulam, director, Bhola Thapa, and presenter, Dinesh Subedi, on why they had not censored the program.

According to local reports, NTV accused the director and presenter of disrupting national integrity and communal harmony, while Thapa reportedly defended the program, saying it presented a balanced view.

The IFJ shares the FNJ’s concerns that this decision goes against press freedom, democratic debate and legal provisions, and demands that the program be reinstated.

Youths beat journalists
On November 25, a group of approximately 50 youths beat Dharma Poudel, correspondent of the Kathmandu Post in Taplejung, the FNJ reported.

Five days later, members of the All Nepal National Free Student Union (ANNFSU) reportedly attacked a cameraman and a photographer who were covering the Public Youth Campus in Kathmandu.

“Despite some advances, incidences of threats and attacks made on journalists highlight the need to push for greater protection of journalists’ rights in Nepal,” the IFJ president said.

“The fact that 50 youths can attack a single journalist is a terrifying and appalling incident and cannot go unpunished,” Warren said.

“Likewise, the censorship and cancellation of a television program further indicates we can not become complacent, but do everything in our power to ensure a free and independent media for a peaceful Nepal,” he said.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries.

The International Federation of Journalists is a member of the
'International Freedom of Expression and Press Freedom Mission to Nepal',
which includes 15 international organisations specialised in global press freedom issues