DECEMBER 31, 2009 This year too, Nepali press witnesses an upsurge in deliberate incidents of life-threatening assaults and atrocities despite repeated commitments from the government and political parties to curb anti-press incidents.
The rise on the trends of burning newspapers and media house to show resentment and vengeance has emerged as a serious problem since it does not only harass media house and workers but also curtails people's constitutional right to access to information. However, Nepali media sees a substantial reduction in the anti-press incidents this year as compared with the number last year.
Freedom Forum Press Freedom Monitoring Desk has recorded a total of 155 incidents of press freedom violation, including the murder of Janakpur-based radio journalist Uma Singh, mainly due to the effect of work, in the year 2009 against 288 incidents in 2008. Over the period of this year, Nepali journalists and media houses throughout the country come across 33 incidents of physical attack, 32 threats, 21 misbehaviors, 11 vandalism, three incidents of obstruction and eight cases of imprisonment, largely from the state and non-state actors, including sister organizations of some political parties and sectarian interest groups.
This year nine journalists were manhandled and 11 were injured in course of their duty.
Based on these incidents and research reports, Freedom Forum concludes that lawlessness, lack of professionalism and growing politicization in journalism remained the major triggers to increase self-censorship in Nepali media, resulting in the reduction of in-depth and investigative reporting.
The major incidents recorded during the period are brutal attack against woman journalist Tika Bista in Rukum, shooting at Gyanendraraj Misra of Gadhimai FM in Birgunj, vandalism of Radio Mukti in Butwal, Ganarajya Weekly, attack on Sama Printers in Lalitpur and attack and subsequent displacement of journalists Lavadev Dhungana and Kumar Ojha in Panchthar,
Similarly, burning copies of Prateek Daily, Nagarik Daily, Kantipur, Kathmandu Post, Nepal Weekly, The Himalayan Times, Annapurna and Aujar Daily were also seen as serious incidents against press this year.
Freedom Forum condemns all the incidents carried out to gag press and curtail journalists’ right to freedom of expression and people’s access to information, and urges the government to come up with concrete measures to end impunity, to ensure reforms in Nepali media and to promote professionalism and pluralism in media.
The Forum also calls on all sides concerned to exercise restraint and stop attacks and atrocities against press and pay respect to press freedom by recognizing the importance of media role in promoting free flow of information thereby strengthening democracy.
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