IFJ Mission Report on Nepal: Coups, Kings and Censorship


Censorship and attacks on journalists were getting worse as the Nepal coup moved into its fifth week, the International Federation of Journalists said today at the release of their report on Nepal: Coups, Kings and Censorship.

Just this week, the regime has released new regulations prohibiting the media from disseminating any information or publishing news related to security matters without obtaining prior information from the security forces.

This appears to follow the widespread reporting by the Kathmandu media of the Maoist looting and burning of a Television Nepal program centre in the west of the country.

The new regulations coincide with reports of increased violent attacks on the media by security forces. Journalists have been held and interrogated or beaten for their reporting. In once instance, a Nepal TV reporter was beaten for photographing bodies of soldiers killed in a Maoist attack.

Newspaper reports also suggest that curfews are being imposed in some districts.

The IFJ report" arose from an urgent mission of inquiry to Nepal by its President Christopher Warren and IFJ South Asia Program Manager Laxmi Murthy. The mission was made possible with the support of International Media Support.

The mission followed the coup by King Gyanendra on February 1 which suspended almost all fundamental human rights, including freedom of the press and expression.

As a result, journalists are increasingly finding themselves trapped between a resurgent Maoist rebellion and the security forces.

In the report, the IFJ calls on the international community to pressure the coup leaders to immediately restore democracy by suspending military aid and carefully consider all direct government-to-government aid.

The report finds that:

  • 11 journalists have been detained for more than 48 hours since the coup, with three still being held and about a hundred in hiding or exile

  • Censorship of the media has reached unacceptable levels, with newspapers prevented from reporting the political events surrounding the coup

  • The Nepali people have been denied access to information by the banning of news on FM radio

  • About half of all publications have ceased publication, particularly outside the Kathmandu valley

  • Hundreds of journalists have already lost their jobs, with many more at risk

    "Despite all this, journalists are fighting back," Warren said.

    "They are attempting to keep their communities informed of these momentous events, even to the extent of publishing an underground newspaper," he said.

    "During the visit, we were constantly impressed by the strength and solidarity shown by Nepali journalists - to each other and to a free press."

    The mission also found freedom of association under threat, with the Federation of Nepalese Journalists pressured over its campaign to sustain press freedom.

    Trade union rights have also been suspended, with senior trade union leaders in jail.

    For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668

    The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries

    <center>The IFJ mission to Nepal was supported by International Media Support</center>