Small Concessions To Press Freedom Overshadowed By More Violence In Nepal

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the latest violence against media workers in Nepal, and stressed that while small concessions have been made, the new government must make a more solid commitment to press freedom and protecting the rights and safety of journalists.

Armed soldiers reportedly attacked Kantipur Daily journalist, Ganesh Rai; news coordinator of Kantipur Television (KTV), Deepak Bhattarai; cameraman, Shyam Shrestha; KTV intern reporter, Rajneesh Bhattarai; and journalist, Bimal Gautam; and attempted to confiscate their equipment while they were trying to cover an accident between a Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) ambulance and a passenger mini-bus on May 4, 2006.

IFJ affiliate the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) has called for an unbiased investigation into the incident.

A day earlier Jeejibisa journalist, Rajendra Gautam, was released from custody, however his colleagues, Tej Narayan Sapkota of the weekly Yojana and Hom Prasad Basyal of the Janadesh Weekly remain in custody and the IFJ calls for their immediate release.

More progress has been made with the recent Supreme Court ruling that the government must allow KTV to broadcast its programs by satellite and all FM radio stations to broadcast news.

These incidents come in the wake of King Gyanendra’s decision to reinstate parliament and renewed hope for peace talks between the Nepalese Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

Over 900 journalists were arrested in Nepal during the 15-month rule of King Gyanendra, including 500 in the last three months.

IFJ president Christopher Warren welcomed the recent progress but urged the new government to further address the continued abuse and the poor conditions facing Nepalese journalists.

“The continued targeting of media workers and violence against journalists is unacceptable, and the new government must prove it’s committed to democracy by the removal of all unconstitutional orders and policies that curb press freedom, and making a genuine unshakable pledge to the protection of journalists’ rights and lives.”

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