Journalists attacked and threatened

Expression

Journalist attacked for reporting on an illegal business

Journalist Dinesh Giri was attacked by three people on 2nd June 2018 over a news report about an illegal business in Belbari, Morang in eastern Nepal.

According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Dinesh Giri, the editor of nirantarkhabar.com and also the treasurer of NPU Morang branch, was called out of his residence by three persons - Bishal Thapa, Jagen Gurung and Chitra Khadka - who then allegedly attack him. Giri sustained injuries on his head and back and had to be taken to hospital.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Nepal Press Union (NPU) condemned the attack and urged the authorities to immediately arrest and punish those involved in beating the journalist.

Ajaya Babu Shiwakoti, the NPU General Secretary, said:

“The incident shows that journalists have to report issues of public interest risking their safety. The NPU condemns the attack on journalist Dinesh Giri and demands stringent punishment to the attackers. The NPU urges the authorities to ensure safe working environment for journalists and media.”
Journalists issued death threat

The NGO Freedom Forum reported in April 2018 that journalists Rajesh Bhandari and Madan Babu Bhandari were issued a death threat by a police officer for reporting about his alleged connection with gold smuggling in Kathmandu on 25th March 2018.

Rajesh Bhandari is affiliated with online news portal www.ratopati.com and Madan Babu Bhandari is affiliated with Kathmandu-based Sushasan weekly and www.suvadin.com. The journalists filed a complaint at the Metropolitan Police Crime Investigation Division after receiving the death threat.

Independent mechanism for protecting journalists

Nepal’s human rights commission and the country’s federation of journalists have decided to expedite the process of setting up an independent mechanism for protecting journalists and media freedoms

Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Anup Raj Sharma raised this while speaking in mid-June 2018 at the launch of Defending Journalism — a book published by International Media Support (IMS) which documents the safety of journalists in seven countries, including Nepal.

“This is the right time for Nepal to set up a mechanism for protecting journalists taking into account the three Ps — prevention, protection and prosecution,” said Robert Shaw, the Global Safety Programme Manager at International Media Support (IMS).

Association

Proposed policy to curtail NGOs

As documented previously by the CIVICUS Monitor, the Nepali government has proposed a “National Integrity Policy” under the Ministry of Home Affairs that could curtail the work of international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in the country. The policy was first revealed in April 2018 and is expected to be approved by the Cabinet soon.

Under the policy, International NGOs (INGOs) would no longer be allowed to engage in projects that influence the drafting of laws and policies in Nepal. It also says that INGOs must obtain government approval before sending reports to their headquarters in their home countries and have their budgets and programs approved by the finance ministry. INGOs would be banned if they make any attempts to spread religion.

Nepali NGOs have criticised the policy, arguing that it is impractical and would create unnecessary barriers for civil society. In June 2018, Tara Nath Dahal, Chief Executive of Freedom Forum, an NGO active in matters of press freedom said:

“[The policy] is against the constitution as it limits citizens’ fundamental rights. Citizens need open, independent space to organize and participate in activities; this space cannot be guided by the state.”

In a positive move, the Federal Ministry of Home Affairs temporarily backed down on a separate requirement for the details of property owned by office bearers and staff of both national and international NGOs to be disclosed, as part of the registration and renewal process. However, there is uncertainty if this requirement will be imposed at a later date.