Nepali press at growing risk: Monitors



With the peace process stalled and political parties deeply polarised, the press in Nepal is getting increasingly insecure, which, analysts say, could have a bearing on the country’s move towards a freer, democratic society.

Statistics show a marked increase in gross violations of press freedom, though the total incidents appeared to slightly decrease — from 232 to 169 in the last two years. According to the press freedom monitoring unit at the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), last year witnessed increased incidents of threats to journalists — from 63 to 95 this year — and attack/vandalism — from 10 to 19. There were 169 incidents of press freedom violations between May 2009 and April 2010.

“The harrowing data indicate that Nepal is no better than it was some four years ago when the civil war was raging,” said FNJ secretary Ramji Dahal, who coordinated the monitoring. “If the press continues to get insecure, it could have a serious bearing on the country’s transition to stable peace and democracy,” FNJ Chairman Dharmendra Jha said. “The attack must stop,” he added.

Addressing impunity, according to observations of most of the media monitors, is one area where Nepal has to improve if it wants to stop the media from being attacked.

“Impunity index rating” of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), for instance, reveals that there are 0.210 unsolved cases of journalists’ murder per 1 million inhabitants. Nepal maintains 100 percent impunity in the reports of most of the media watchdogs, including the FNJ, CPJ and the US-based Freedom House.

Journalists say political parties are mainly behind the rising impunity. “Despite repeated commitments, the parties and their governments brought no redress on the attacks,” Jha said. “This year alone, two media entrepreneurs were murdered but the government has not been able to even identify the murderers.”

Many a time, the political parties themselves have been found responsible for the attacks. The fact that 100 of the reported attacks on the media were by political groups, is a telling pointer of things.

Freedom House’s report published on Thursday also pointed out the same. The House said that due to lack of political will, press freedom in Nepal declined by four points (from 122 in 2009 to 126 in 2010).

The CPJ also listed Nepal as one of the 20 “deadliest countries” in the world in its 2010 report. Nepal, according to CPJ, is one of the few countries “where journalists are murdered on a recurring basis and governments are unable or unwilling to prosecute the killers”.

“After the 1990 restoration of democracy, journalists continued to erode their credibility as they developed unholy nexus with political parties,” said senior journalist Kishor Nepal. “It is time they professionalise themselves and do away with some canker blossoms that are introducing crimes in journalism.”


Press freedom violations in 2009

In 2010

In 2009







Attack on media:



Total incidents:




Nepali journalists killed in the past decade

Date killed

1. Arun Singhaniya, Today Group

March 1, 2010

2. Jamim Shah, Channel Nepal

Feb. 8, 2010

3. Uma Singh, Janakpur Today

Jan. 11, 2009

4. Jagat Prasad Joshi, Janadisha

Oct. 8, 2008

5. Birendra Shah, Nepal FM, Dristi Weekly

Oct. 4, 2007

6. Shankar Panthi, Naya Satta

Sept. 15, 2007

7. Ambika Timsina, Janadesh

Date unknown

8. Maheshwar Pahari, Rastriya Swabhiman

Oct. 4, 2005

9. Dekendra Raj Thapa, Radio Nepal

Aug 11, 2004

10. Gyanendra Khadka, Rastriya Samachar Samiti

Sept. 7, 2003

11. Dhan Bahadur Rokka Magar, Radio Nepal

Jan. 30, 2003

12. Nava Raj Sharma, Kadam

June 1, 2002

13. Krishna Sen, Janadisha, Janadisha

May 27, 2002

14. Shambhu Patel, Radio Nepal

Feb. 5, 2000

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