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Attacks on the Press in 1998 - Nepal

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1999
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1998 - Nepal, February 1999, available at: [accessed 22 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

As of December 31, 1998

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who by year's end held a tenuous grip on power, had a mixed record in his dealings with the media. Koirala has repeatedly voiced his support for a free press, and even emphasized the role of journalists as educators central to the democratic project. Nevertheless, his administration has shown little tolerance for the open exchange of news and opinion on the Maoist insurgency that continues to threaten Nepal's stability.

When Koirala took office in April, he pledged to restore "law and order." The government's crackdown on Maoist rebels includes censorship and harassment of the press. Although the Home Minister has denied any knowledge of a campaign to censor news of the conflict, police in several cities prevented the distribution of newspapers containing details of fighting between government and rebel forces.

Despite constitutional guarantees of press freedom, the 1989 Anti-State Crimes and Penalties Act criminalizes dissemination of information deemed harmful to state interests. Some journalists complain that reporting on guerrilla activities leaves one vulnerable to harassment and violent intimidation by both government forces and Maoist insurgents.

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, and nearly 80 percent of its population lives in the countryside. The print media thus face the daunting challenges of distributing papers across extraordinarily rough terrain and of building circulation among a cash-strapped and largely illiterate public. In this environment, radio remains the most effective medium.

The government has begun to grant licenses to a handful of private FM radio stations. Although most stations broadcast music and entertainment, one station, Radio Sagarmatha, has emerged as a model for news and public affairs broadcasting in South Asia. Radio Sagarmatha, a community station, receives funding from international organizations, and works cooperatively with local groups such as the Nepal Forum for Environmental Journalists, the Nepal Press Institute, and Worldview Nepal. It has managed to skirt a ban on broadcasting independent news with a news analysis program that reviews newspaper stories.

Attacks on the Press in Nepal in 1998

08/17/98K.P. Gautam, GorkhapatraLegal Action
08/17/98Uddhav Upadhyay, GorkhapatraLegal Action
08/17/98Shiva Adhikari, GorkhapatraLegal Action
06/09/98Ajko SamacharpatraCensored
06/09/98Jana EktaCensored
06/09/98Jana Bhawana, and othersCensored
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