IFJ calls for all sides to respect the media in Nepal

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, has today expressed its outrage over the tactics used by the CPN-Maoists, Government officials and individuals in their attempts to control and manipulate the media in Nepal.

"It is responsibility of those in public life to recognise the vital and central role a free and independent media play in civil society," said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

"The IFJ reiterates our call for all parties to respect the media and journalists in Nepal and to immediately stop these outrageous attacks," said Warren.

According to our information, on 31 July 2004 six journalists were abducted by CPN-Maoists in Ranibas, Surkhet district. The journalists reportedly were abducted as they were accused of not being in support of the CPN-Maoist movement. All six were released shortly after their abduction.

The journalists abducted were; Durga Thapa of the daily Nepal Samacharpatra, Dev Kumari Subedi, of the weekly Samaya, Kamal Pant and Ganesh Karki, of the local daily Bulbule, Ratna Bahadur Shahi, of Karnali FM, and freelance journalist Shree Bahadur Bhandari.

In a separate incident, CPN-Maoists continue to bar journalists from traveling in the CPN-Maoist controlled Taplejung district. On 1 August, Sita Niraula, reporter with the Himalayan Times, who was in the area covering the conflict in Skakranti Bazaar, along with a group of other journalists was ordered to leave the area by a CPN-Maoist area commander, as they had not received prior authorization to travel there.

The media continues to suffer at the hands of all sides in Nepal, with the looting of the weekly Bimarsha in Ganabahal, Kathmandu. The thieves took cash and equipment to the total value of half a million rupees (US$6,600). The equipment included, movie cameras, 150 silver coins and a television set. The motive for the robbery remains unknown.

In a separate incident, on 18 July, Jeevan Nath Chaudhary, assistant accountant of the District Development Committee threatened to kill Narayan Shah, journalists with the daily Vishwa Jagaran for publishing a critical report.

The IFJ calls upon all groups and individuals in Nepal to respect the right of journalists to cover the news free from intimidation and fear.

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

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries