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Nepal: Mass Arrests & Violence Against Journalists

Mass Arrests and Violence Against Journalists Continues in Nepal

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned over the continuing mass arrests and violence being directed towards the media in Nepal and reiterates its calls for the authorities to respect the independent role of the media and to desist in targeting the media.

The situation continues to remain perilous for journalists in Nepal with daily news of journalists being arrested; beaten and targeted. Orders to cable operators to black out Kantipur Television (KtV) is yet another attempt to muzzle independent media.

In addition the Nepalese Government has reintroduced the media ordinance with its restrictive controls on the media.

“The continued harassment of journalists and the media in Nepal is out of step with international human rights standards,’” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

“We are calling on the king and the authorities in Nepal to respect the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and immediately desist in using violence and intimidation to silence the media in Nepal,” said Warren.

On April 16, 20 journalists were arrested from Bhotahiti, Kathmandu and have been given a 90-day detention order under the Public Security Act 1990 for participating in a protest rally against the unfair treatment of journalists on April 14.

These arrests followed the arrests of four journalists and the injuring of at least a dozen others a peaceful protest organised by the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) in Gaushala, Kathmandu on April 15. The rally began from the FNJ offices at the Media village and as they reached Gaushala police indiscriminately baton charged the journalists and continued to beat them even after taking control of the crowd.

Mahendra Bista, FNJ secretary general; Shailendra Basnet; Krishna Humagain; and Man Bahadur Neupane received severe injuries to their heads.

The IFJ has received reports of journalists and the media being arrested and beaten from their homes and being brutally attacked despite clearly displaying proof that they are members of the press and should be treated as independent observers.

In addition to the mass arrests and violence against the journalists the government is attempting to use censorship to silence the media with a direction from the Minister of Information to all cable operators to blackout Kantipur TV and the reintroduction of the media ordinance on April 3.

The IFJ is calling for the immediate release of all journalists and media workers currently being held in custody in particular those who have been charged with a 90-day prosecution order.

A complete list of incidents of journalists being arrested and attacked from April 5-16, 2006 is attached as Appendix A.

See http://www.ifj-asia.org/page/nepal.html for more information on the situation in Nepal.

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