Press Freedom a Priority for Reporting Nepal's Elections

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) extends its full support and solidarity to its affiliates, the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), the Nepal Press Union (NPU) and the National Union of Journalists, Nepal (NUJN), and all journalists in Nepal as they report on the country’s national elections scheduled for April 10.

As Nepal approaches a crucial step in its transition to democracy, the IFJ calls on the caretaker government, national officials, local authorities and militant groups to guarantee journalists are not obstructed in preparing news reports before, during and after the Constituent Assembly election.

Journalists in Nepal have faced a treacherous period of forced closures and targeted attacks by police officials, members of the public and militant groups who hold journalists and media institutions responsible for reporting information with which they disagree.

Pushkar Shrestha, editor of New Highway and New Season, was killed on January 10. His murder was allegedly committed by the Jwala Singh faction of the Janatantrik Terai Mutki Morcha (JTMM-J), an armed group fighting for independence in the Terai region in Nepal’s south-east.

Ongoing “bandhs”, or strikes, instigated by the United Democratic Madheshi Front (UDMF) and the Federal Republic National Front (FNRF) in the Terai during February caused the closure of 18 Jhapa-based newspapers due to supply shortages.

More than 25 incidents of physical harm instigated against journalists and media workers have been reported since the beginning of 2008.

“As the people of Nepal prepare for the national elections, the IFJ calls on all media owners and security personnel to ensure that journalists’ safety is a priority before, during and after April 10,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

“Editorial independence and the liberty and safety of journalists are principles of press freedom that the Nepal media must be granted in order to provide fair and balanced reporting of the election campaign and its outcome.”

The IFJ encourages all journalists and media institutions to uphold their responsibility to report fairly on the election and to stand by their strong and unified defence of the right to a free media and free expression as a crucial element of democracy.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries