IFJ urges parties to uphold media freedom in Nepal

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Kathmandu, Apr 25 (UNI) The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called on all parties that form Nepal's new government to commit openly to uphold the freedom of the media and the freedom of expression.

The IFJ, concerned with ensuring the freedom of press, was recognised and acted upon within the new government, following reports that some political parties and their supporters sought to intimidate journalists at the polling booths during the campaign for the national election, held on April 10, a press release issued by the IFJ said.

According to the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), an IFJ affiliate, 61 incidents of media rights violations were recorded across 70 regions during the campaign period, including 20 cases of physical assault on journalists, 12 cases of threats and intimidation, 21 cases of freedom of information violations, and eight attacks on media houses and vehicles.

There were several incidents where journalists were threatened with physical violence, intimidated and attacked by the Maoist cadres, it said.

However, the IFJ reminds the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which was currently leading the poll count, of the commitments its leadership had made directly to the IFJ on several occasions to support the freedom of the media and the freedom of expression.

The IFJ called on the CPN(M) and all the potential governing parties to demonstrate respect for the responsibilities of the journalists to report independently, with regard to all the aspects of the election outcome.

''The professional standards of journalists in Nepal, during the country's election and post-election period, is testament to the necessity for a free flow of accurate and objective information for a peaceful election process,'' said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

''However, it is clear from the number of attacks against journalists, reported through the FNJ's media monitoring network, that Nepal still has a long way to go to uphold press freedom and protect journalists as its guardians,'' he added.

UNI XC SBC HT2228

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