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Two journalists threatened in separate incidents

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - Freedom Forum is deeply concerned over a threat issued against journalist Dhaniram Sharma, a local correspondent for ABC Television Channel in Rolpa, a remote mountainous district of Nepal, on January 6, 2011.

An unknown person issued the threat to Sharma over the phone, saying he would "break his news writing finger."

"A mobile phone was used to threaten me," said Sharma, adding that he did not know which of his stories had caused the caller's reaction.

Sharma lodged a complaint with the Rolpa District Administration Office and the Rolpa District Police Office but police have yet to identify the caller.

In another anti-press incident, cadres associated with the ruling party CPN (UML) threatened journalist Padma Shrestha, a reporter for the national daily "Nepal Samacharpatra", on January 11. The incident occurred at the Pharping Village Development Committee (VDC), in Kathmandu district.

VDC Unit Chairperson Ramakrishna Maharjan threatened Shrestha for exposing the misappropriation of funds granted by different donor agencies for capacity building efforts at Manmohan Memorial Community Hospital.

According to Shrestha, Maharjan said he would "convert the national daily into ash" for publishing the news of financial mismanagement.

"The hospital was established in support of local people and donor agencies to provide health services to one and all, but CPN-UML cadres have compelled people to acquire party membership in order to receive services from the hospital," said Shrestha.

A case has been filed at the District Court regarding the mismanagement of the grant funds.

Freedom Forum condemns these attempts to intimidate journalists and prevent them from exposing information. The activities violate journalists' freedom of expression and those of the public, who have a right to be informed. The Forum asks the local administration to investigate the incidents and bring the guilty parties to justice to discourage press freedom violations.

Freedom Forum also reminds all parties of the legal recourse available to them if they feel aggrieved by a news story.

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