Freedom Forum welcomes the verdict of Bara District Court on May 30, 2011 on slapping life imprisonment with property attachment to the two murderers of journalist from Bara, Birendra Saha.
With this court decision, a step has been taken by the State authority to put an end to the longtime unchecked impunity in the country thereby to promote freedom of expression/press.
The decision has come as a matter of happiness and justice to the torch-bearers of freedom of press and defenders of human rights in the country and abroad.
Journalist Birendra Saha was abducted and murdered on October 5, 2007. He was abducted and murdered by the cadres of the UCPN-Maoist namely, Managar Giri, Ram Ekbal Sahani, Lal Bahadur Chaudhary, Hare Ram Patel and Kundan Faujdar.
Sahani and Faujdar under the order of local Maoist leader Chaudhary had abducted journalist Saha, a reporter with the Avenues TV, from a local Pipra market of Umjan VDC-1 to nearby forest and killed him.
Managar Giri of Inarwasira-9 and Ram Ekbal Sahani of Khopwa VDC in the district, who were in the judicial custody for two years, were handed down the sentence by a single bench of Judge Bal Mukunda Dawadi. However, three others are still absconding. The case against them is pending, said District Attorney Bhuwaneshwor Poudel. It is said all three absconding are still the members of UCPN-Maoist.
Although the district administration had shown reluctance to arrest the murderers at first, the pressure in the parliament triggered by the demand from media and human rights sectors including international media missions forced the administration to hunt the culprits.
However, following the verdict, Saha's wife, Umarawati complained that though two have been punished, the main accused is still at large.
Umarawati has a son and a daughter.
The abduction and killing of journalist Saha had created furor in media and rights sector and made the journalists insecure.
However, the life imprisonment at least to the two murderers of journalist Saha, though late, has come as a bold step to end the impunity.
Freedom Forum urges the State authority again to intensify the search for the absconding murders including the prime accused and bring them to book to end impunity and help create free and fair atmosphere for the journalists to carry out their works.
Freedom Forum welcomes the Supreme Court (SC) order issued on May 30, 2011 regarding the appointment of UCPN-Maoist leader Agni Sapkota as the Minister for Information and Communications because the order has opened up avenues for putting an end to the impunity unchecked for long in the country.
The SC, in response to a writ petition, ordered Minister for Information and Communications Agni Sapkota to submit a written clarification as to why he should not be suspended from the Cabinet in view of serious charges of human rights violation against him.
Filing the writ petition in the Supreme Court, the human rights activists had demanded the suspension of Minister Sapkota from the Cabinet.
Minister Sapkota has been accused of masterminding the abduction and subsequent killing of Arjun Lama of Kavrepalanchowk district in 2005.
The appointment of a person allegedly committed such heinous crime to the Ministry to protect freedom of expression and of people has not only ridiculed government's commitment to uphold human rights but given a wrong message to the international community on rising impunity.
The human rights activists and watchdogs not only from the country but also the rights missions from abroad including the OHCHR had been expressing grave concern over the case of Maoist leader (now Information Minister) Agni Sapkota.
Sapkota was denied visa by the US Embassy in June 26, 2010 citing “serious and specific human rights allegations for his conduct during the insurgency.”
Therefore, the Supreme Court's recent order on questioning the continuity of Mr Sapkota in the Ministry is a commendable step to end impunity in Nepal. It obviously creates a precedent that none is above the law.
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