IFJ Condemns New Killing As Nepal Descends Into "Nightmare Conditions for Press Freedom"

The International Federation of Journalists today strongly condemned the killing of a journalist in Nepal and warned that the country was descending into "nightmare conditions for press freedom" following a series of attacks on media. Some journalists have gone on hunger strike in protest at recent attacks.

Nawaraj Sharma 'Basant', editor and publisher of the Karnali Sandesh weekly newspaper was shot and killed by Maoist rebels says the National Union of Journalists of Nepal according to a report from the Kalikot district. He had been abducted in June.

"These are nightmare conditions for press freedom," said Christopher Warren, IFJ President, "Journalists are facing constant intimidation and threats and it is time for the authorities to take responsibility for guaranteeing the safety of journalists and media."

In June, the IFJ condemned the killing of Krishna Sen, editor of Janadisha - apparently while in jail and after being tortured. The IFJ is pressing the Prime Minister of Nepal, Sher Bahadur Deuba, for a full investigation. Sen's body was handed over to his family for cremation but the authorities have not explained his death. Police say Sen was an official of the Nepalese Communist Party (Maoist). He had been detained in a secret place for a month before he was killed.

The IFJ reports a steady deterioration in conditions for Nepalese journalists. More than 100 have been arrested in the past year. Press freedom groups report incidents of systematic torture and regular abductions, both by security forces and Maoist rebels.

The response of Nepalese journalists has been a growth in professional solidarity, says the IFJ. "We have seen a number of protests by Nepalese journalists," said Warren, " and we intend to give our colleagues the full support of the world community of journalists."

He said the horrifying conditions facing journalists in Nepal would be discussed at an IFJ regional conference for journalists groups from South Asia next month in Katmandu being organised with the German-based Friedrich Ebert Foundation. "The time has come for practical action to confront the killers of journalists," said Warren.