Nepali media suffers due to unabated impunity, says study

Kathmandu, November 21

Nepali media has suffered the worst in the recent two decades as a result of unabated impunity, argues a study.

Unveiling a study report prepared by Freedom Forum here yesterday, General Secretary of the Forum,Dharmendra Jha said as the people involved in crime (murder and enforced disappearance) against journalists were not brought to book, the impunity had hit Nepali media hard.

The study focuses on the period from 1996 to 2016.

Twenty-three journalists were murdered, while three had gone missing. It was 1996 when Nepal began to witness the armed revolution that lasted till 2006.

More than two-third of the 26 incidents were not investigated. Political pressure and threat from oppressors were the main reasons behind victims not filing case against attackers, claimed the report.

Local courts have decided on four cases, while two are still under consideration.

The report further stated that the government, despite forming an investigation committee, did not make public the report on the murder of Prakash Singh Thakuri (Mahendranagar, Kanchanpur), and Chairman of Channel Nepal TV and Space Time Network, Jamim Shah.

During the study period, the state was involved in the murder of seven journalists, while the rebel side were involved in the rest of the crimes.

It has been a decade since the government and then rebellious force CPN (Maoist) inked the Comprehensive Peace Accord, which became a reason for the State authorities to avoid investigation and litigation of crimes against journalists, as it was mentioned in the CPA that any incident of political nature would be handled by a separate entity — the truth and reconciliation commission, and the commission on investigation of enforced disappeared person.

During the programme, CIEDP Chairman Lokendra Mallik appreciated Freedom Forum’s study, saying it would help investigation activities at CIEDP. He, however, said the CIEDP needed laws to fully function.

Similarly, Member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Madhavi Bhatt said the Commission was yet to begin investigation, and the study would be very useful in the investigation.

Chairman of the Federation of Nepali Journalists Mahendra Bista informed that FNJ has given information on crimes against journalist to both CIEDP and TRC for investigation. He hoped that the commissions would bring out the facts behind the incidents.

Deputy Attorney General Sanjib Regmi however said the court had delivered decisions on litigations brought to the court. He urged all to bring the cases to the court.

DSP at the Crime Division of Nepal Police Deepak Regmi said as there was no separate law on disappearance in Nepal, it could slow down investigation. However, Nepal Police is committed to investigate, the official added.

Media educator Kundan Aryal opined that time had come for both the government and the then rebels to bring forth clear views on the crimes they perpetrated against journalists.