The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries, is deeply concerned over the assault and subsequent arrest of journalists in Surkhet in mid-western Nepal.
“Assaults on journalists and restricting them from carrying out their professional work represent a severe challenge to press freedom and rule of law,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren.
According to information received by the IFJ, police in Surkhet in mid-western Nepal, on 2 January, detained journalist Moti Poudel of Kantipur daily and cameraperson Kamal Panta of Kantipur Television Network from the premises of Surkhet Appellate Court. The journalists were covering news regarding the court's decision on a habeas corpus petition.
Plainclothes policemen reportedly beat up Panta as he was trying to take pictures of security men re-arresting the four persons (suspected Maoists) released after the court's order. The policemen had acted on the orders of Police Inspector, Gobindha Pathak of the Regional Police Office. Panta was accused of working as an informer for Maoists and was taken towards the police station.
Panta sustained minor injuries from the beating. Journalist Poudel who went to Panta's rescue was also arrested.
Police inspector Rajkumar Silwal of District Police Office, also snatched Panta's camera and deleted the pictures, stating that he was ordered to do so by 'higher authority".
The IFJ calls for the immediate release of the detained journalists, and urges the authorities to respect journalists’ rights and the rule of law.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 933 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries