Media Action Nepal, a media rights advocacy organization, has called on the government to abolish impunity for crimes against journalists, claiming that it is a continual impediment to free press in Nepal.

Issuing a statement today to mark the 'International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists' (IDEI), Media Action Nepal has urged Nepali authorities to implement measures to counter the existing culture of impunity.

"A total of 35 journalists have been killed in Nepal since 1996, only five have been subject to the judicial process. The whereabouts of four journalists including Milan Nepali, Prakash Singh Thakuri, Madan Paudel and Chitra Narayan Shrestha remains unknown.

More than two-thirds of cases that include the killing and disappearances of journalists have not been investigated by the Nepali authorities," the statement reads.

"Though no journalists have been killed in recent years in Nepal, their safety has become more difficult to ensure due to the government's indisposition to arrest perpetrators involved in killing journalists during and after the 10-year long political conflict," said Laxman Datt Pant, Chairperson of Media Action Nepal.

The government and political leadership have failed to fulfill their commitment to arrest the perpetrators of crimes against journalists and provide justice to victims, Pant added.

According to Media Action Nepal, the transitional justice institutions of Nepal such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission for the Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), have been failed to investigate or recommend to the government that reparation is offered to victims of the conflict in the cases of murdered and missing journalists.

These commissions have not yet investigated the complaints lodged on incidents relating to the murder and disappearance of journalists.

Chairperson Pant urged that in addition to introducing an effective state policy to end impunity for crimes against journalists, the Government of Nepal must implement its commitment towards independent and free media to combat fear and self-censorship among journalists.