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Appointment of New Minister Menaces Freedom of Expression in Nepal

Freedom Forum Nepal is deeply concerned over the recent appointment of Maoist leader Agni Sapkota as Minister for Information and Communication in Nepal.

Appointing a person allegedly committed serious human rights violation to the Ministry to protect freedom of expression of people has not only trampled the government's commitment to uphold human rights but also triggered doubts among the international community about Nepal's future move for securing people's fundamental rights, said Freedom Forum Chairperson Taranath Dahal.

Sapkota is named as a suspect in an FIR registered by the police in 2008 regarding the alleged abduction and killing of Arjun Lama in 2005. Picking a person with tainted image as human right perpetrator has made a mockery of democracy and rule of law. According to s statement issued by the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights Nepal (OHCHR-N), "The police registered the FIR in response to a March 2008 order of the Supreme Court (SC) requiring it to do so and to carry out a full investigation in accordance with Nepali law."

It is the state's obligation to bring the guilty party to book and to put the culture of impunity to end but when such persons are inducted to power it imparts a message of insecurity and reward to the predators.
Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal appointed Sapkota despite a pending charge of his involvement in the abduction and murder of Lama.

The national and international human rights community had cautioned Prime Minister Khanal and Maoist Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal against appointing any individual involved in grave human rights violations.
Freedom Forum urges all national and international stakeholders to keep up their vigilance into the freedom of press and of expression regime of Nepal with the induction of the accused to the important Ministry related to information and communication.