As the international community works to help restore democracy in Nepal, Reporters Without Borders has sent the Nepali government, via its embassy in France, a list of 11 urgent steps it should take to safeguard press freedom, damaged by recent decisions from the palace and the military.
As long as the Nepalese government fails to take these steps, the organisation will continue to campaign for Western countries to impose political sanctions on the Himalayan kingdom. EU and India’s ambassadors have been withdrawn from Kathmandu for consultations and the United States is planning to suspend aid, including military.
Reporters Without Borders also sent a list of ten Nepalese journalists who have been imprisoned, five of them arrested since 1 February 2005. Among those arrested was Bishnu Nisthuri, Secretary General of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.
Eleven urgent measures to save press freedom in Nepal
1. Repeal the prohibition, imposed on 1 February, on the publication of any negative information about the king, government or army for a period of six months.
2. Withdraw the directives issued on 7 February to newspaper editors about authorised news and information.
3. Allow news programmes to resume on FM radio stations.
4. End the blocking of privately-owned TV stations and international TV stations.
5. Reopen all provincial media.
6. Release imprisoned journalists.
7. End the control which the security forces have been exercising in the editorial offices of newspapers, especially opposition weeklies.
8. Reopen community radio stations.
9. End the harassment of the leaders of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.
10. Allow the FM re-transmission of the BBC World Service’s Nepali-language programmes to resume.
11. End the censorship of news websites.