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Nepal 30 March 2005

Arrests of journalists and censorship continue two months after emergency declared

At least 45 journalists have been detained for questioning or arrested by the security forces since King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency and seized full powers two months ago, on 1 February, while 10 of the 15 journalists currently in prison were arrested in the past two months, Reporters Without Borders said today.

The latest to be arrested is Ganesh Mahar, a freelance journalist who used to edit Farwest Daily and Sahakarmi Weekly. He has been detained in the western town of Dadeldhura since his arrest on 25 March while covering an opposition party rally.

Reporters Without Borders said it condemned these arrests and other press freedom violations committed by the Nepalese authorities in the name of national interests. It was also very concerned about the press censorship still in force, it stressed.

According to a statement carried by the governmental news agency RSS, the print media are banned from publishing articles or interviews that could incite "violent or terrorist acts that go against the intentions and spirit of the royal proclamation of 1 February."

FM radio stations are also subject to censorship. On 9 March, the information and communication ministry reiterated the 2 February ban on their broadcasting news programmes.

Many news media have had to close since the state of emergency was declared, putting at least 600 journalists out of work.

Reporters Without Borders said it supported the protests in which 400 journalists took to the streets in Kathmandu on 29 March to demand the end of censorship, the restoration of press freedom and the release of the imprisoned journalists. Reporters Without Borders last month proposed 11 measures to safeguard press freedom in Nepal. more information

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