IFJ joins FNJ, NPU in condemning harassment of online journalists

KATHMANDU: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the harassment of and threats to editors and journalists of an online news portal in Kathmandu by student leaders of the ruling political party, on the instruction of a parliamentarian.

IFJ has supported the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and Nepal Press Union (NPU) in condemning the act, adding that it was a matter of concern that a lawmaker was violating the rights of journalists and norms of press freedom.

Issuing a press release, IFJ has criticised student leaders from All Nepal National Free Students’ Union (ANNFSU) harassing and threatening journalists of hamrakura.com over a news report concerning Member of Parliament (MP) and ANNFSU chairperson Nabina Lama, and has demanded an investigation into the incident and safety of journalists.

According to the statement, seven people led by Bhupendra Shahi, central committee member of ANNFSU, entered the online portal office on the evening of June 6 and demanded the removal of the news. They stayed at the media office for more than half an hour, harassing executive editor Madhav Prasad Chamlagain and other journalists.

It further states that MP Lama had earlier called chief editor and NPU general secretary Ajaya Babu Shiwakoti demanding to remove the news about her addressing a citizen using bad language, when asked a critical question on Facebook messenger. However, the portal updated the news with Lama’s rebuttal and also published her rebuttal as a separate news, but she was adamant that the portal remove the original news and threatened Shiwakoti with using cyber law to jail him.

NPU chairperson Badri Sigdel, in a statement, said: “The NPU condemns the threat of jailing a journalist by a sitting MP, and harassment to journalists in the newsroom, even after the portal published the rebuttal. To pressure and threaten journalists over published material is a condemnable act and a violation of press freedom.”

Likewise, FNJ, through a press release, has opined that the act of threatening the journalists and editor of the online news portal even after publication of a counter statement was strict violation of press freedom, adding that the federation severely critisises the irresponsible act.

FNJ General Secretary Ramesh Bista said: “The FNJ condemns the act of harassment and threats by a person in a responsible position of MP and demands that the concerned authorities to probe the incidents to bring it in legal prosecution and ensure safety of journalists and media.”