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Impunity Watch: government fails to book the murderers of journos

In what appears to be the major threat to Nepali media sector, the Nepal government has yet to punish the murderers of Journalist duo Dekendra Thapa and Birendra Shah. Though family members of slain journalists have already claimed the name of perpetrators, the administration has turned blind eye into the incident and the prime accused have been moving freely in the respective districts.
The family of slain journalist Dekendra Thapa has complained that police have failed to take any initiative to investigate into the killing though they lodged a FIR naming several persons as guilty some two years ago.

Talking to media persons in Surkhet on 8 November 2010, the slain journalist’s widow Laxmi Thapa said that police are reluctant to investigate into the killing. “Police should investigate into the murder after registering the written complaint with names of the guilty. But, they are very reluctant to do so,” she said.

Laxmi claimed that she had registered a complaint saying UCPN (Maoist) activists including Bam Bahadur Khadka were involved in the killing.

Maoist activists abducted Thapa, the then district correspondent of Radio Nepal, from Dwar VDC of Dailekh district on June 26, 2004 and murdered him in captivity on August 11.

Similarly, the killers of journalist Birendra Saha have yet to be brought to book three years after he was brutally murdered by Maoist cadres.

Saha was abducted from Umjan Pipra, Bara on October 5, 2007 and his body was found buried at Tagiyabasti in the district over a month later on November 9 2007. Maoist cadres Lal Bahadur Chaudhary, Kundan Foujdar and Hare Ram Patel were accused of the murder but only Ram Iqbal Sahani has been so far arrested in connection with the case.

Freedom Forum voices serious concerns over the state of impunity that has been frequently affecting constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression and of press. "This is not merely the issue of media sector instead of the nation," says Freedom Forum Chairperson Taranath Dahal, adding "this kind of incidents curtail media freedom and put journalists on psychological pressure resulting self-censorship."

Freedom Forum strongly demands concrete action against culprits at the earliest. "The State should not abstain of brining the press freedom predators to justice to end the growing culture of impunity and dispense justice to bereaved families of the journalists who lost their lives for the cause of press freedom," adds Dahal, "The nature of both the incidents has created doubt whether the culprits have been protected by political leadership since the prime accused are connected with political party in the district." Freedom Forum believes that the rule of law and media freedom can not prevail unless government brings the guilty of such brutal incidents into the book.