IFJ deplores the conditions for working journalists in Nepal

May. 25, 2007

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) denounces the attacks and harassment that are plaguing media workers in Nepal.

The fact that there are several reports every week of further intimidation is definite cause for alarm, IFJ president Christopher Warren said.

Media workers released after detention, harassment

According to an IFJ affiliate, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Shree Janamat Daily photojournalist and correspondent Shree Shresha Rai and newspaper carrier Ram Sigdel were on their motorbike on the way to Itahari, Sunsari, an eastern district, at around 8:30 AM on May 22 when they were stopped by members of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF).

Allegedly, after showing the requested identification, their press passes and motorbike keys were seized and they were taken to Bansbari chowk, roughly two kilometres from Bargachi, where their newspapers were taken and they were harassed and threatened, apparently because their newspaper had been printing negative reports of MJF.

They were released after two hours when the police arrived, and their keys and newspapers were returned to them.

Death threats issued to journalists and human rights workers

According to local reports, military commander Prabhu of the armed group Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM-Jwala Singh faction) issued death threats to six individuals: Shiva Puri of Kantipur Daily, Sanjaya Karki of Nepal Samacharpatra daily, Fani Mahat of Radio Birgunj, Ashok Pahadi of Terai Express weekly, and Ratna Adhikari and Bipin Gautam, both human rights workers.

The threats followed supposed reports on Radio Birgunj that five villagers had been displaced because of threats from JTMM commander Khaheru Dewan.

Prabhu threatened to kill the six individuals unless the reports were refuted within a week, although the news chief of Radio Birgunj, Dipendra Chauhan, claims there were no such reports.

Inebriated police officer attacks journalist

According to the FNJ, Rabindra Pal, a sub-inspector for a district jail, arrived drunk at the hotel that Dambar Nidal, a reporter for Sundur Sandesh weekly, was staying at around 9pm on May 18, took control of the entire hotel, harassed the residents inside, and then punched Nidal.

It is believed by local journalists that the assault on Nidal may have been triggered by an article published about the escape of three prisoners from the jail that employs Pal.

Media and humanitarian workers in Nepal should be applauded for their continuing fight against harassment and disturbances and their courage in such difficult circumstances, Warren said.

The global community needs to band together to force the Nepalese government to crack down on violators of press freedom, since without freedom of expression, no country can really call itself a democracy, he said.

Journalists in Nepal deserve to be able to do their jobs without fearing for their very lives.

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

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries

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