The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) condemn the arrest and 28-hour-detention of two journalists under false charges in Bhimdatt Municipality, Kanchanpur, western Nepal on June 17. The IFJ demands a probe into the incident and action against officials for framing false charges on journalists.
Editor Khem Bhandari and executive editor Ganesh Bhatt of Manaskhanda daily were arrested on Saturday, June 17 for publication of a news report and charged under the Public Crime and Punishment Act. The news in question is a report about the police arrest of two females whom the newspaper claimed to be innocent.
Police released Bhandari and Bhatt after 28 hours of detention on June 18 under pressure from an FNJ-led protest and demonstrations by local journalists. FNJ sent a team to Kanchanpur to discuss the matter with the Chief District Officer and demanded that the Home Minister order immediate release of the journalists.
Ujir Magar, FNJ General Secretary, said in a statement: “The FNJ denounces the misuse of power and office by the district police in arresting, with visible prejudice, the editor and executive editor of a newspaper for publishing a report that the police had arrested innocent individuals.”
“The FNJ is seriously concerned about this development. This raises serious concern over the position of the government regarding freedom of press. The FNJ demands that the government ensure a free environment for journalism and to take action against the offenders after investigating the facts of the case.”
The IFJ said: “The arrest of journalist Khem Bhandari and Ganesh Bhatt appears to be a clear case of the police trying to silence critical media. The arrest of journalists over news that is critical of the police and falsely charging them under a criminal act is a clear violation of press freedom. The IFJ demands an immediate probe into the case and action against police officials responsible to ensure that such an incident is not repeated in the future.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
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