The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) extends its support and solidarity to its affiliate, the
Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), as it commences a series of nation-wide
actions to protest the latest attack on a journalist in the country.
The events will begin with
black-band protests all over the country and an active process of lobbying with
national and international human rights bodies for their involvement in
addressing the latest attack and the overall climate of impunity that prevails.
All political parties, especially
those in the current ruling coalition, will be urged to make public statements
about their attitude towards press freedom and the safety of journalists.
Interactions with editors in the
capital, Kathmandu, and all district towns
will be held on June 26, followed the next day by discussions with all major
This will be followed by
demonstrations outside the Constituent Assembly building in Kathmandu
and the principal administrative offices in most districts.
“The IFJ fully endorses the demands
the FNJ has placed before Nepali authorities to end the climate of impunity
that prevails for attacks on journalists and put in place sound guarantees of
physical safety and professional security for news gatherers all over the
country,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director
Jacqueline Park said.
“The FNJ has led this struggle and
produced notable victories in the past, principally in the realm of legislation
and public commitments by the political leadership. However, the record of
implementation leaves a great deal to be desired.”
The FNJ protests follow the attack
on Khila Nath Dhakal, correspondent for the Nepali-language daily Naagarak,
in Biratnagar in southeast Nepal.
Biratnagar is Nepal’s
second largest city and part of the extended terai region (or
southeastern plains) where competitive politics between different ethnic groups
has caused serious security worries for journalists.
Dhakal was attacked on June 5 by
cadre of the Youth Force, an affiliate of the Communist Party of Nepal (United
Marxist-Leninist) which heads Nepal’s
governing coalition. He received several phone calls from Youth Force municipal
committee Chairman Rabin Koirala demanding an immediate meeting before the
attack. When he presented himself for a pre-appointed meeting, Dhakal was taken
to a remote and isolated place by motorcycle and badly assaulted by over ten
cadre of the Youth Force.
The attack is believed to have been
in direct retribution for certain stories published by Dhakal on the
involvement of a leader of the Youth Force in Biratnagar district, in certain
unlawful activities in recent times.
Following a meeting between the FNJ
leadership and Nepal’s
Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal, two arrests have been made for the attack,
though the person who allegedly ordered it is still at large.
Convictions in Uma Singh Murder Welcomed
The IFJ meanwhile welcomes the
verdict by the Dhanusha district court in the terai town of Janakpur sentencing two to
life in prison for the murder of Uma Singh, a reporter for Janakpur Today and Radio Janakpur, in January 2009. The brutal
murder led to nation-wide protests by the FNJ and international expressions of
outrage. Local authorities quickly arrested five persons though the individual
who allegedly ordered the killing has since remained elusive.
Lalita Singh and Nemlal Paswan have
now been found guilty of the murder, while the three other accused, Shravan
Yadav, Bimlesh Yadav and Akhilesh Singh, have been acquitted.
“We are encouraged by this verdict,
which comes soon after the killers of the journalist Birendra Sah in October
2007 were found guilty and given life sentences by the district court in Bara,”
The IFJ joins the FNJ in urging
Nepali authorities to make all efforts to bring Umesh (alias Swami) Yadav to
trial for allegedly ordering Singh’s murder.
An IFJ capsule report on the killing
of Uma Singh, issued in March 2009, is available here.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +61 2 9333 0919
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