Nepal media rights group demands release of jailed journalists
NEPAL: Media rights activists demanded Tuesday that Nepal's new
government free three journalists jailed for criticizing King Gyanendra
during his authoritarian rule, and scrap all laws used to crack down on
a free press.
"We are demanding these journalists be immediately freed and all
charges against them dropped," said Bishnu Nisthuri, president of the
Federation of Nepalese Journalists, an umbrella body of all media rights
groups in the country.
Weeks of street protests last month forced the monarch - who seized
direct control over the government on Feb. 1, 2005 - to give up powers,
restore the parliament and appoint top opposition leader Girija Prasad
Koirala as the prime minister.
Under Gyanendra's direct rule, the government strictly enforced media
laws and imposed a ban on writing against the king and royal family and
criticism of the security forces. It also prohibited independent
reporting on the country's communist insurgency, imposing a maximum
penalty of two years in prison and a fine of 500,000 rupees (US$7,000;
euro5,800) on journalists and newspapers that violate the ban. The
Federation of Nepalese Journalists said the laws should be scrapped.
Three journalists still remain in jail and have been charged by the
previous government under anti-terrorism laws, accusing them of links
with the rebels.
Kathmandu, Tuesday, AP