IFJ Supports Reinstatement of Nepal’s Parliamentary Democracy but Calls on Authorities to Respect the Human Rights of Nepalese Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the moves by Nepal’s King Gyanendra to reinstate the kingdom’s dissolved parliament, which reconvened on Friday April 28, and ended the 14-month rule by the autocratic monarchy.

The victory comes after weeks of protesting in the troubled capital, Kathmandu, and is a major step towards re-establishing democracy in Nepal.

“This latest development means the Nepalese people will now be sovereign in a true sense and can decide the future of the nation by constitutional assembly,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

Yet the conditions of the Nepalese press remain unfavourable and of serious concern to the IFJ.

With over 200 reported cases of journalists suffering arrests, physical attacks and injuries while covering the pro-democracy demonstrations, it is evident there is still no guarantee of professional security for journalists.

The Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) Pachthar Chapter president Lavdev Dhungana was brutally beaten by police while participating in a protest rally.

Dhungana received severe injuries to his head after five police personnel surrounded him and brutally beat him despite him showing his identity card.

The IFJ called for the release of three journalists that are still being detained by authorities in the capital.

“We must remember the democratic movement would not have achieved the gains it has without the consistent campaigning by Nepalese journalists, who vow to continue the struggle until journalists’ rights are recognised and full press freedom is entrenched in Nepal,” Warren said.

“The courage of the Nepalese journalists who put themselves at risk to cover the recent violent demonstrations, which led to the restoration of parliamentary democracy, is to be admired,” he said.

The IFJ vehemently condemns the acts of any individual seeking reprisals against journalists working for government media outlets.

This comes after violent attacks on government press agency journalists by militants for alleged bias towards King Gyanendra’s dictatorial regime during the coverage of the pro-democracy movements.

The IFJ calls upon the new Nepalese prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala to ensure he shows respect for the human rights of individual journalists and the Nepalese press, and to cease any arbitrary use of the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Control and Punishment) Ordinance (TADO) and the Public Security Act to detain journalists.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919

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

The International Federation of Journalists is a member of the 'International Freedom of Expression and Press Freedom Mission to Nepal', which includes 15 international organisations specialised in global press freedom issues