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Letter to Nepal April 13, 2012
H.E. Baburam Bhattarai
Office of the Prime Minister
Kingdom of Nepal
The recent murder of a Nepalese journalist is alarming to the Overseas Press Club of America, and to press freedom advocates worldwide. The brutal death of Yadav Poudel is not only tragic; it is also a further indication that your country lacks basic safeguards for the courageous journalists whose work is essential to preserving democratic institutions in Nepal.
Yadav Poudel worked for the Kathmandu-based Avenues TV, the national daily, Rajdhani Daily, and the local Mechi Times. The police found Poudel’s body on the morning of April 3 outside a hotel in Birtamod in eastern Nepal, where Poudel had been conducting research for an article on prostitution in local hotels. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), initial reports claimed that his throat had been slit, but the English-language daily, Republica, said that doctors suspected that he had been violently beaten and thrown from a rooftop.
It is unclear whether Poudel was killed as a result of his journalistic work, although some reports strongly suggest that he was directly targeted for the attack in reprisal for his report on prostitution. We urge your government to make a full investigation of the attack and prosecute the perpetrators. According to the International Press Institute (IPI), 18 other journalists have died in Nepal in the past decade, most of them murdered, and many of those crimes remain unsolved.
Attacks on journalists are certainly not an anomaly in Nepal. In recent weeks, there have been a rising number of attacks and threats against journalists in your country. Among them, the publisher of the weekly, New Highway, Sashi Bichitra, received threatening telephone calls on March 22 — a possible result of his coverage of local smuggling. On March 12, three Nepalese journalists were abducted and held captive for two hours by illegal loggers who threatened to kill them if they reported what the loggers were doing. An analysis published by the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2011 found that your government’s failure to take action against attacks on the media “has established a deeply entrenched culture of impunity.” Although your government has pledged to adhere to principles of media freedom in your new draft constitution, it is clear that you are failing to meet this expectation.
For more than seventy years, the Overseas Press Club of America has sought to protect journalists around the globe. These recent attacks on journalists in your country are of great concern to us because they are a clear breach of both democracy and freedom of speech. In order to promote a free press and a stable political environment, it is imperative that your government take action to prevent future attacks of this kind.
Marissa E. Miller
Freedom of the Press Committee
H.E. Ram Baran Yadav
Kingdom of Nepal
H.E. Shankar P. Sharma
Ambassador of Nepal to the United States
Embassy of the Kingdom of Nepal
2131 Leroy Place, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 667.5534
Ambassador Madhu Raman Acharya
Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Nepal to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue, Suite 17-B
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 953.2038
H.E. Scott H. DeLisi
U.S. Ambassador to Nepal
Embassy of the United States of America
Fax: (011.977.1) 441.9963
Hon. Krishna Mahara
Communist Party Nepal
Fax: (011.977.1) 422.8256
Nepal Press Institute
Post Box 4128
Fax: (011.977.01) 26.41.54
Fax: (011.977.1) 449.0085
Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520