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Nepalese journalists receive death threats over news reports

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - Freedom Forum was dismayed to learn that journalists in Sindhupalchowk, a district near the capital city, received death threats over their news reports.

According to information provided by Yuvraj Puri, a reporter with the Annapurna Post daily, to Freedom Forum's media monitoring desk, reporter Dinesh Thapa, of the Rajdhani daily, received a threatening phone call in connection with a story about the illegal acquisition of citizenship certificates by non-Nepalis.

Thapa was threatened repeatedly by a gang that includes Norsang Lama and Nawaraj Sen, the main individuals accused in the citizenship case. The gang told the reporter, "You will be killed very soon."

Similarly, Rishiram Poudyal, a reporter with Kantipur daily in Sindhupalchowk district, received a death threat over a story he wrote about gold smuggling in the district.

A person named Om Bajracharya of Tatopani reportedly issued the death threat against Poudyal.

Freedom Forum vehemently condemns the incidents which have violated the rights of journalists and press freedom. The local administration needs to bring the culprits to book, and provide security to the journalists, Freedom Forum noted.

In a separate incident, on 2 December, a police officer threatened to attack news editor Opendra Basnet of the Prakriti FM station based in Dang, a hilly district in the midwestern region of Nepal.

Talking to Freedom Forum's media monitoring desk, Station Manager Sangit Basyal said, "Inspector Puran Neupane threatened to attack editor Basnet over a report aired on the station about the police manhandling news reader Karna Chaudhari."

Prakriti FM expressed concern after Superintendent of Police Shanti Ram Thapa wrote a letter to the station, seeking an explanation as to why the news report was aired even though the police had not harassed Chaudhari. Moreover the story dishonoured the police organisation, Superintendent Thapa argued.

Freedom Forum, after screening the statements of both sides, concludes that the act of threatening to attack an editor over a news report is clearly a violation of press freedom. Similarly, the police's way of seeking an explanation reflects highhandedness and goes against due process, as the police department could have approached the appropriate regulatory body about its reservations over the content of the news report.

Therefore, it is condemnable that the police, which shoulders responsibility for providing security to all, has disconcerted the public and the media by going against the rules.

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