(RSF/IFEX) - "The Nepalese government, which obstinately refuses to heed human rights organisations, has made possible the widespread use of torture against journalists and human rights activists," stated RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a letter to Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. "The death of a journalist in custody can in no way be justified under the antiterrorist campaign, even if the journalist supports the Maoist movement," affirmed Ménard. RSF said it was very shocked by Krishna Sen's death. "We ask you to order the security forces to cease their acts of torture. Moreover, we call on you to swiftly carry out an investigation into the circumstances of this homicide," added Ménard.
According to information gathered by RSF, Sen, editor of the pro-Maoist newspaper "Janadisha" and former manager of the weekly "Janadesh", died in custody last week at a Nepalese security forces detention centre. His body was handed over to his family for cremation but the authorities did not supply any information on the reasons for Sen's death. According to several sources in Kathmandu, the journalist was tortured to make him confess to his ties to the Maoist movement and his contacts with the Maoist leaders. He was in good health before he was arrested on 20 May 2002 at a house in suburban Kathmandu. Sen, who according to police was an official of the Nepalese Communist Party (Maoist) for the Kathmandu region, was detained in an unknown place for nearly one month.
Sen had been released on 15 March 2001 after more than two years detention, following a Supreme Court ruling. The authorities accused him of publishing an interview with rebel leader Baburam Bhattarai in his pro-Maoist newspaper (see IFEX alerts of 22 and 13 March 2001, 17 August and 22 and 21 April 1999).
On 16 April 2002, RSF published its fact-finding mission's report entitled "The Consequences of the State of Emergency and of the Fight Against 'Maoist Terrorism' - Attacks on Freedom of the Press". The report is available on RSF's website at www.rsf.org.