In a letter sent to the Prime Minister of Nepal, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières - RSF) protested against the arrest of Sudarsan Raj Pandey, managing editor of the Nepalese-language weekly Utthan and the daily Terai Today, published in Birgunj (200 kilometers south of Katmandu). "The arrest of this journalist again shows that the armed forces break Nepalese laws with the greatest impunity," said Robert Ménard, RSF’s general secretary. RSF called on the Prime Minister to immediately release Pandey and to ensure that the law that forbids soldiers from arresting, questioning or detaining individuals be respected.
According to information obtained by RSF, Sudarsan Raj Pandey, journalist and managing editor of the Nepalese-language weekly Utthan, was arrested on 26 March 2002, by security forces while covering a story in the Bhaktapur region (Katmandu valley). According to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Sudarsan Raj Pandey was being held in the Suryabinayak military camp. As of 31 March, Pandey’s family had not yet been allowed to see him. His family has filed a request with the National Human Rights Commission. Sudarsan Raj Pandey is an FNJ councilor for the Parsa district (south of Katmandou).
RSF also reminded the prime minister that, in a report published on 26 March, the organization had revealed that more than 100 journalists had been arrested since the beginning of the state of emergency. Twenty-seven other journalists and media professionals are still in jail, suspected of supporting the Maoist rebels in the country. In most cases, there is no evidence of this. RSF called on the Prime Minister to do everything in his power so that petitions of habeas corpus filed by Nepalese lawyers and the families of the imprisoned journalists be examined carefully and with full respect for the law.