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Impunity behind Rising Threats against Media

Press Freedom Report : 2010  

This year too, media and media workers did not feel a sigh of relief and respite with their profession reeling under the frequent incidents of threats, attacks, harassment and obstruction. Journalist came across a hard time to freely exercise the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression, and compelled to censor themselves for personal security.


Generally, lack of professional and personal safety to media persons, lack of professionalism, growing politicization in journalism and lawlessness have been the major triggers of self-censorship in Nepal. Rising number of murder, life-threatening assaults, obstruction and vandalism from various quarters of life resulted psychological effect in journalists that ultimately manifested in self-censorship. Consequently, it is found that it has brought about detrimental effect in in-depth reporting and investigative journalism.
Journalists were compelled not only to experience inhuman torture and life-threatening assaults, but also faced deaths and death threats when they dare to report the wrong doings of political parties, sectarian interest group, security personnel and even government officials.
During this year, a total of 107 incidents of press freedom violation took place in the name of covering or not-covering the news. Over the period, three media entrepreneurs including Chairperson of Space Time Network Jamim Shah, 47, Publisher of Janakpur Today, Arun Kumar Singhaniya, 50, and Chairperson of Community Radio Tulsipur, Devi Prasad Dhital (Hemraj), 45 were gunned down in a broad daylight. The number of anti-press incidents including murder of three media owners served as a testimony to the fact that crime against media has increased and journalists are still working under threat and attack.
The press freedom violation incidents include murder (3), abduction (2), displacement (2), attack (16), obstruction (2), threat (37), manhandle (20), misbehavior (19), torch (4) and looting (2).
This year too Nepali media did not witness any substantial policy reform on the part of the government nor have brought any concrete measures to book the perpetrators of press freedom. The government did not make public the investigations carried out into the incidents of murder of three media entrepreneurs, which amply increased confusion with different speculations and interpretations from different walks of life.
In the absence of clear law and policy, the new problems of cyber crime and defamation have remained unaddressed. Besides, the unequal treatment by the government has also increased a sense of insecurity among journalists. The situation revealed that freedom of expression and of press is still under challenge.
Media credibility has also been questioned in some of the reporting so that community people themselves came up with protest and also attacked journalists. It has increased challenges to the media sector to work in a sensitive way being embolden to the genuine public issues.