IFJ Alarmed by Nepalese Authorities' Change in Questioning Tactics of Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed by the latest change in questioning procedure by Nepalese authorities.

Narayan Walge, editor of Kantipur, was summoned for questioning by the Crime Investigation Division of the District Police Office at Hanuman Dhoka, and not by the Chief District Officer.

"This latest development widens the potential for arrests, harassment and detainment of journalists by Nepalese authorities, " said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

On Thursday 17 March 2005, Walge presented himself to the police office in accordance with a summons presented to him on Wednesday 16 by the Crime Investigation Division of the Police.

Walge and his lawyer were allowed to leave after an hour of police questioning. Wagle was questioned on Kantipur's content in its 15 March edition, apparently to determine if it had violated the spirit of the 1 February Royal proclamation.

A front-page report in the Kantipur 15 March edition claimed 750 protestors were arrested for taking part in peaceful protests around the country. In a statement issued on the same day, the Home Ministry refuted the number and claimed it was exaggerated. The newspaper also published a photo of Mr Bal Bahadur Rai, leader of Nepali Congress

It is reported that Walge and his lawyer informed the police they would make their deposition when questioned by the appropriate authority and not the "Crime Investigation Division" of the police.

Walge is the first journalist to be questioned on the violation of the "spirit" of the proclamation in reports by the Crime Investigation Division of the police and not the Chief District Officer.

On Wednesday, 16 March, National Freedom of Expression Day, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) delivered a memorandum to the chief secretary appealing for the immediate lift of emergency rule, full activation of the constitution and restoration of press freedom.

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

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