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Nepal 19 November 2008

Authorities urged to react to a series of physical attacks against media and journalists

Reporters Without Borders calls on the Nepalese authorities to carry out thorough and rapid investigations into recent attacks by violent groups on independent media and journalists. One the latest was on 16 November in the capital and targeted the Himal Media group.

"All the Nepalese media deserve the same level of safety and freedom, and it is up to the government to guarantee this protection," Reporters Without Borders said. "There is an urgent need for the police to conduct proper investigations, identify those responsible and bring them to justice. The Maoist-led government must ensure that all voices can be heard in Nepal, even those that criticise the new authorities."

Around 10 masked men on motorcycles attacked the Himal Media press group’s distribution depots in the capital on 16 November, vandalising equipment and torching more than 1,000 copies of the group’s Nepali-language fortnightly Himal Khabarpatrika.

The magazine’s editor, Kanak Mani Dixit, told Reporters Without Borders he regarded the incident as an "organised attempt to restrict free expression and increase fear among journalists."

It came two weeks after an attack targeted against the group’s CEO, Ashutosh Tiwari, on 24 October, when stones were thrown at his car in the capital. Himal Media has filed a complaint about the 16 November violence but the police have not yet identified any of the participants.

Acts of violence and intimidation against journalists are still very frequent in the provinces. Journalists are particularly threatened in the southern Terai region, where armed groups hold sway and there are hardly any police.

Shiva Devkota, the editor of the local weekly Nuwakot Jagaran, was attacked and roughed up after speaking on behalf of the Nepal Press Union at a Congress Party meeting on 17 November in the central district of Nuwakot.

The front window of the National News Agency (RSS) bureau in the southeastern city of Biratnagar was smashed on 13 November.

Siddharaj Upadhyay, the newspaper Gorkhapatra’s correspondent in the western district of Doti, was threatened by a businessman on 28 October after writing an article about illegal gambling. Policemen present during the incident failed to intervene.

Journalist Rammani Upadhyay, the editor of the local newspaper Basudha, was seriously injured by unidentified assailants on 24 October in the central city of Janakpur and was hospitalised in Kathmandu. The motive for the attack is not known.

The offices of the Tarai Times daily newspaper in the central district of Dhanusha were vandalised on 20 October by unidentified intruders, who manhandled two employees.

A leader of the JTMM-J armed group threatened to kill Krishna Prasad Dhakal, The Himalayan Times correspondent in the western district of Kapilvastu, on the night of 11 October.

Jagat Prasad Joshi alias JP Joshi Pandit, a Maoist activist and president of the Kailali chapter of the Revolutionary journalists association (RJA), has been missing since 8 October, when he left his home in Malakheti to go to Kathmandu. His family has not received any news of him since then.

Reporters Without Borders meanwhile voices its support for the Federation of Nepali Journalists’ recent request to the prime minister for light to be shed on the July 2007 disappearance of journalist Prakash Thakuri. Maoists were suspected of participating in his abduction.

In this country
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Radio station threatened by Maoists
8 February - Nepal
Nepalese media in great danger, International Press Freedom Mission finds
14 January - Nepal
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12 January - Nepal
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in the annual report
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