The IPI global network is alarmed by recent attacks on media freedom in Nepal after seven journalists and media workers have faced arrests, threats, or attacks in separate incidents in the past month. We call on the government to cease its harassment of independent journalists and to safeguard freedom of the press.

IPI has documented the following threats to press freedom in Nepal since May 31:  

•  Rani Vibas, an editor at the national weekly newspaper Naya Bikalpa, was detained for two hours on June 20. He was arrested and taken to a police station while covering a fire in Kanchanpur, the westernmost district in Nepal. Vibas and fellow journalists sent a memorandum to the Superintendent of Police Shyam Singh Chaudhary, demanding action against Inspector Thagunna, the officer who detained Vibas. Chaudhary apologized for Thagunna’s misconduct and assured he will take action against the officer, according to reports

•  On June 15, journalist Prince Mishra and cameraperson Avista Lama from Himalaya Television were threatened and obstructed from reporting in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, according to reports. The mayor of Kathmandu, Balendra Shah, threatened to delete the videos Mishra had taken while reporting on waste management at the garbage collection center in Teku. Shah also ordered the reporters to leave KMC premises. 

•  On June 13, Nepal police arrested and charged journalist Kailash Majhi with indecent behavior for his critical reporting about local leadership in the Saptari district, according to Freedom Forum, a non-governmental organization advocating for human rights. Majhi, who works at Nepali news channel Mountain Television, was held in police custody for four days before being released on June 17. Earlier this year, on February 15, he received a death threat in response to his reporting. Majhi told Freedom Forumthat he has been using the Right to Information Act to request information from public offices in Saptari and to inform people about ongoing public issues. 

•  On June 3, Karna Dhami, a reporter at Radio Jaya Prithvi FM in the Bajhang district, was attacked by a drunk man, who beat the journalist following a dispute over a broadcast about a deceased relative, according to reports

•  On June 1, Uday Raj Adhikari, an editor with Dhamaka Daily and member of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, was harassed after seeking information at the Infrastructure Development Office using the RTI Act two months ago. He was called into the office on June 1 where the head of the office, Prabhakar Singh, harassed and threatened him, according to the FNJ.

•  On May 31, the ward chairman of the Mahashila Rural Municipality in the Parbat district threatened and abused Laxman Kumar Sunar, editor of Nayan News, over his reporting on the distribution of social security allowance. 

These recent incidents illustrate the uncertain and intimidating environment for journalists in Nepal, who regularly face threats, restrictive laws, and detention, despite the constitution’s commitment to “full freedom of the press”. 

“We strongly condemn these recent attacks on journalists in Nepal, which is a worrying sign for press freedom in the country”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “We are concerned about the blatant disregard for the rights of journalists, who should not have to risk their safety or freedom in order to do their jobs. These cases are an attack on press freedom and are serious violations of the public’s right to information, which is vital for democracy.”