45 journalists detained for seven hours in Nepal

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) in condemning the detention of 45 journalists in the capital city of Kathmandu by Nepal Police on July 1, 2014.

Police arrested the journalists from the premises of the Ministry of Finance where they were staging a peaceful sit-in to demand the government pay for public welfare advertisements. The government, through the Department of Information, submits public welfare advertisements to media outlets under a quota system.

The journalists were eventually released after seven hours of detention.

Those detained included the FNJ’s Central Committee members Ishwori Wagle, Ramhari Silwal and Raju Lama and the district presidents of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts.

A delegation led by FNJ president Dr Mahendra Bista, general secretary Ujir Magar and secretary Sangita Lama met with the Minister for Information and Communication Dr Minendra Rijal and the Minister for Finance Dr Ram Sharan Mahat after the incident to express their concerns at the detention of the journalists.

The FNJ also demanded that the government pay the publications for the advertisements at the increased rate that agreed upon in August 2013.

The IFJ said: “Detention of journalists staging a peaceful sit-in is an undemocratic move by the state. Journalists hold the same constitutional and fundamental human rights as any other citizen in the country, and so they should be entitled to peacefully exercise all those rights.”

The IFJ added: “We request the government support media development in the country which is going through transitional period, with a view to strengthening democracy. We urge the government of Nepal to consider the demands put forward by the journalists and pay the money that is owed. Media outlets and the journalists they employ can only survive through earning income – withholding desperately-needed advertising revenue after having agreed almost a year ago to pay the increased rate is stifling press freedom in Nepal and causing genuine hardship.”