IFJ Calls For an End to Attacks Against Media in Nepal

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned over the continuing attack on Nepalese media by both the Nepalese Government and CPN-Maoist forces.

“The media in Nepal appears to have become the whipping boy of the political players, suffering at the hands of both Government and Maoist forces,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren in Turin today. “This is utterly unacceptable,” said Warren.

Journalist kidnappings, attacks and raids against newspapers continue to occur at an alarming rate. Of greatest concern is the recent kidnapping of Nepalese journalist, Dekendra Raj Thapa, who remains detained.

On 26 June 2004, CPN-Maoist’s kidnapped Dekendra Raj Thapa, reporter with the state owned Radio Nepal and Kamal Neupane, Secretary of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists’ (FNJ) Dailekh section and editor of the local Asala Shasan bulletin.

Thapa was allegedly kidnapped for his investigative reporting on financial irregularities connected to a local drinking-water project. The motive for Neupane’s capture remains unknown. Whilst Neupane was released after a brief interrogation, Thapa continues to be held by the Maoists.

“Journalists must be allowed to carry out their work without being subject to harassment, violence and fear of capture - democracy and good governance demand it,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren today.

“The IFJ is concerned over the over the continued efforts of both the Government and the CPN-Maoists to attempt to silence the independent media in Nepal,“ said Warren.

“It is the responsibility of the Government of Nepal to support free media, not to attack it,“ said Warren, in response to the raid by plain-clothes security forces on Aishwarya Printing Press in Naradevi, Kathmandu on 7 July 2004. The security forces seized all materials published prior to 1996 and arrested the owner, Bandhu Dev Pande.

Continued threats and violence directed towards the media have resulted in the ongoing suspension of publication of the weekly newspaper Nikash. Unidentified assailants attacked the editor, Sunil Khadka, they seized an audio recorder and various documents and threatened to further obstruct publication of the paper.

The IFJ is calling on the Government of Nepal to ensure the safety and protection of Nepalese journalists, and to work to ensure the safe release of Dekendra Raj Thapa and that those responsible for the capture of Kamal Neupane are brought to justice.

“A free and independent press will never be able to exist as long as violence is used to intimidate and harass journalists in Nepal,“ said Warren.

In the last year alone more than 80 Nepalese journalists have been killed, attacked, harassed, arrested, detained and kidnapped at the hands of both the Nepalese Government and the CPN-Maoists.

For more information please contact Christopher Warren +61 (0)411 757 668

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries