Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the continuing harassment of the independent press by the security forces in both Kathmandu and the districts, in which at least six journalists have been detained, attacked or threatened since 1 January 2006.
“The security forces stop at nothing to monitor and silence journalists working for the independent press,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Arrests, threats and censorship succeed one another in an infernal cycle,” the organisation added, calling on the international community to keep stressing the importance of respecting press freedom to the Nepalese government.
Half of the cases of censorship in the world in 2005 were in Nepal, where at least 425 journalists were arrested, attacked on threatened.
The police yesterday interrogated Benupraj Bhattarai, the correspondent of the daily Kantipur in the eastern district of Ilam, about his sources for a report on a student demonstration during a visit by the king to the district in which anti-monarchic slogans were chanted and black flags were unfurled.
The day before, Hari Narayan Gautam of the daily Rajdhani was detained while covering a Communist Party of Nepal-UML meeting in the western town of Kalimati by nine soldiers who had posed as Maoist activists in order to infiltrate the meeting. He was released after being questioned for three hours. An army spokesman said there was a misunderstanding.
Reporter Bed Prakash Timilsina and photographer Shailendra Kharel of Kantipur were detained and roughed up on 5 January at the main hospital in the southwestern city of Nepalgunj while interviewing people who had been injured in a Maoist attack.
Plain-clothes police seized copies of the weekly Janadabad on 4 January in the eastern town of Sindhulimadi, where journalists were also threatened by soldiers who tried to force them to leave the district.
Moti Paudel of the daily Kantipur and Kamal Panta, a cameraman with Kantipur TV, were also detained and beaten on 2 January by plain-clothes police, who accused them of being Maoist spies. They had been covering the case of four persons who were arrested as they left a court in Surkhet which had just released them. A policeman deleted the photos in Panta’s camera.