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Nepalese media targeted for covering journalist's murder case

UPDATE: Freedom Forum welcomes court decision on Dekendra's case
On 15 January 2013, the Supreme Court issued a verdict in favour of the continuation of the prosecution against the accused in the Dekendra Thapa murder case. (Freedom Forum, 16 January 2013)

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - January 10, 2013 - The leaders and cadres of the ruling Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), and its breakaway faction- the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) - in Dailekh, a far western district of Nepal, have begun issuing death threats against journalists. The threats are related to news coverage about the recent arrest of their fellow cadres and leaders for their alleged involvement in the 2004 murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa.

Talking to Freedom Forum's Media Monitoring Desk on January 10, 2013, Puskar Thapa, a district reporter with the Annapurna Post daily, said, "Maoists leaders have been issuing death threats against us since our reports about last week's arrest of their cadres and leaders over the gruesome murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa. We are feeling insecure though we drew the attention of the concerned authorities to the threats."

According to Puskar Thapa, journalists in the district are panicked and agitated after the threats, and the Prime Minister's alleged intervention on January 8 in the ongoing interrogation of the accused in the murder case.

The media but also civil society, the general public and professionals have been protesting the pressure imposed by the Prime Minister.

Puskar Thapa further said journalists and civil society members were planning to hold discussions on January 10 with the political parties in the district about media security.

Freedom Forum therefore strongly condemns the Prime Minister's move to maintain impunity by letting the criminals off the hook. The administration in the district needs to provide ample security for journalists, and the Maoist parties (one of whom is the ruling party) must respect the rule of law, freedom of expression, press freedom and democratic principles. Freedom Forum is in support of a fair investigation into the murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa.

BACKGROUND:

Five Maoist party leaders and cadres in the district were arrested by the police last week in connection with the murder, eight years after the crime was committed.

It is worth noting here that one of the arrested, Laxmi Ram Gharti, has already confessed to the crime, saying journalist Dekendra Thapa was buried alive.

Currently, not only in Dailekh district but all across the country, journalists, legal practitioners, human rights bodies, rights defenders, civil society members have become agitated over the government's ill-advised effort to stop the ongoing investigation. Various organizations of journalists, rights defenders, and professionals have vehemently criticized the government's maneuver to cover the crime. They organized protest programmes and rallies in different parts of the country, including the capital city Kathmandu, against the Prime Minister's move. Freedom Forum expresses solidarity for the actions protesting the government's autocratic character.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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