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IPI adds Nepal to Watch List

PRESS RELEASE - INTERNATIONAL

26 May 2005

IPI adds Nepal to Watch List, retains Ethiopia, Russia, Venezuela and Zimbabwe

SOURCE: International Press Institute (IPI), Vienna

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a 24 May 2005 IPI press release:

Vienna, 24 May 2005

IPI Adds Nepal to the Watch List, Retains Ethiopia, Russia, Venezuela and Zimbabwe

At the Board Meeting of the International Press Institute, held in Nairobi, Kenya on 21 May, the Executive Board of IPI voted unanimously to add Nepal to the IPI Watch List. In addition, it was agreed that Ethiopia, Russia, Venezuela and Zimbabwe would be kept on the IPI Watch List.

Speaking about the situation in Nepal, IPI Director Johann P. Fritz said, "The failure to remove the ban on press freedom undermines claims by King Gyanendra that democracy has been restored in the country. True democracy will only exist in Nepal when journalists and editors can report freely without fear of harassment or intimidation from the authorities."

Elsewhere, concerning Ethiopia, Fritz commented, "The decision to include elements of the draft Press Law in the Criminal Code is an extremely worrying development. Based on this decision, it would appear that the Ethiopian government is attempting to pass the draft Press Law via the back door. Countries that espouse to being democracies should learn that laws cannot be passed slyly; a participatory democracy means that laws have to be fully discussed with interested parties and justified to citizens."

Regarding Russia and Zimbabwe, Fritz said, "In both countries there has been a distinct lack of progress. Indeed, in Zimbabwe the situation continues to worsen. In late 2004 and the first half of 2005, the government of Robert Mugabe harassed foreign journalists, used the Media and Information Commission to close newspapers and passed a second repressive law - the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Bill."

"Within Russia," Fritz said, "Putin's government has intensified its efforts to block coverage of non-official views, while, outside of Moscow, in the regions, there are still intense pressures on the media and self-censorship is often a form of self-defence."

"In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez continues to verbally attack the media and the newly enacted Media Content Law threatens the ability of the media to carry out its reporting duties within the country. The law also carries penalties for those who support or incite disrespect for legitimate institutions and authorities in Venezuela."

For more information concerning the IPI Watch List, please visit the IPI Website at http://www.freemedia.at

For further information, contact IPI at Spiegelgasse 2/29, A-1010 Vienna, Austria, tel: +43 1 512 90 11, fax: +43 1 512 90 14, e-mail: Michael Kudlak at mkudlak@freemedia.at, Diana Orlova at info@freemedia.at, or David Dadge at ddadge@freemedia.at, Internet site: http://www.freemedia.at

The information contained in this press release is the sole responsibility of IPI. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit IPI.

ENDS

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