The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is shocked, saddened and outraged at three serious attacks on journalists in Nepal over the past three days, including the death of Naya Satta correspondent Sanker Panthi.
According to the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) Sanker Panthi, a correspondent for the Butwal-based daily newspaper, was found dead on September 16.
Panthi’s body was found on the Mahendra Highway in Sunwal, Nawalparasi district, with injuries to his head and body.
President of the FNJ’s Nawalparasi district chapter, Keshav Parajuli, informed FNJ headquarters that Panthi had not returned home from a reporting assignment on the destruction of a Young Communist League office by locals.
While the cause and motive for his death remain unknown, members of the YCL demanded Panthi’s body to be taken to Lumbini Hospital in Butwal to undergo a full autopsy by a team of three doctors.
IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park described the incident as a stark reminder of the dangers journalists often face in pursuit of the truth.
“This is yet another incident in a long line of attacks where a journalist’s work to uncover the truth and serve their community has jeopardised their personal safety – and forced them to pay the ultimate price,” Park said.
“We extend our sadness to the family of the journalist and join with the FNJ in calling on the police for an immediate and exhaustive investigation.”
Journalist Receives Death Threat
In a separate incident also on September 16, Dilli Bahadur Satyal, a correspondent for the daily Kathmandu newspaper Kantipur, received a death threat from local businessmen in Doti, a far western district.
According to Udhav Singh Dhant, FNJ”s Doti chapter president, it is believed the threats were related to a satirical column published in the Dipayel Post a week earlier.
The IFJ welcomes the FNJ’s call to the public to report objectionable news items by filing a complaint with the newspaper and the Press Council of Nepal instead of taking matters into their own hands.
“Regulatory bodies such as the Press Council of Nepal exist to ensure that a high standard of journalism is upheld in Nepal,” Park said.
“While we urge the government to provide protection to Dhant and take action against the guilty in this case, we also express our dismay at individuals who insist on menacing journalists for doing their job.”
Media vehicle attacked
According to the FNJ’s Kantipur chapter president Yubaraj Acharya, a media vehicle belonging to Kantipur Publications was vandalised by locals of Naubise in Dhading, in the central region of Nepal.
Driver Purushottam Koirala, and his companion Nitesh Parajuli, reportedly sustained injuries during the attack while on their way back from distributing newspapers.
The vehicle was also partly damaged.
The IFJ supports its affiliate the FNJ in condemning each and all of these serious attacks, and demands better response from the authorities in taking action against those responsible to discourage further disruptive behaviour.
“It is completely unacceptable that a journalist is inhibited from doing their job because they must constantly protect themselves from violence,” said Park. “This is definitely not what press freedom is all about.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries