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Attacks and Threats against Journalists in Nepal

August 15, 2011

Attacks and Threats against Journalists in Nepal

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns two incidents in Nepal in which journalists have been attacked and threatened, and calls on the authorities to ensure that the difficult political environment does not impinge adversely on the practice of free and fair journalism.

According to the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), Kishor Budhathoki, a reporter for The Himalayan Times and its sister publication the Annapurna Post, was attacked by a group of up to 10 assailants in Sankhuwasabha district, in eastern Nepal, about 9pm on August 11.

Budhathoki is reported to be in a critical condition and has been referred from the district hospital to Biratnagar, the principal town in the eastern region.

FNJ sources believe that they have the identity of the person who led the assailants in dragging Budhathoki out of his home at night and attacking him. The local police superintendent said security had been tightened in and around the district town and that the attackers would be arrested at the first opportunity.

The IFJ also extends its support to Nepal’s journalists who met with Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal on August 14 to urge immediate action against political elements who have been threatening journalists.

This followed threats handed out by Mahesh Basnet, head of the youth affiliate of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist), or UML, which currently heads the governing coalition at the national level.

Basnet’s Youth Association Nepal (YAN) is believed to have been behind a near lethal attack on journalist Khila Nath Dhakal on June 5 in Biratnagar district. Since then he has spoken out publicly in support of the suspected assailant and also threatened Narayan Wagle, one of Nepal’s most senior editors, with arrest and the closure of his newspapers.

“We have earlier had occasion to caution the Nepali authorities about the tensions of the political transition spilling over into media practice, causing severe hazards and impediments to journalists engaged in the pursuit of their work,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

“We underline these concerns once again in the context of the recent incidents and call for greater seriousness of purpose in ending the climate of impunity for attacks on the media in Nepal.”

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

Find the IFJ on Facebook here

ENDS

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