While Nepal dropped off CPJ’s 2013 Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free, progress in the country remained tempered. The government led by then-Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai pressured prosecutors to drop their investigation into the 2004 murder of radio journalist Dekendra Thapa. While the police arrested five suspects in connection with the murder and began proceedings against them, relatives of the slain journalist cast doubts on authorities’ commitment to justice as four other suspects remained free. As protests ensued against Bhattarai, journalists were attacked and threatened, prompting several to flee their homes. Critical coverage of the judiciary also led to litigation against journalists. Authorities arrested a suspected mastermind in connection with the 2009 murder of reporter Uma Singh. The climate for journalists remained uncertain as Khil Raj Regmi, chief justice of the country’s Supreme Court, was appointed prime minister of an interim government to oversee parliamentary elections, and the Nepali Congress ousted the Maoists from power in November. UNESCO established a two-year project as part of the U.N. Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in Nepal, one of the five pilot countries for the plan. The plan aims to increase the safety of journalists and end impunity in crimes against the press.
In June 2013, UNESCO launched a two-year initiative in Nepal aimed at increasing the safety of journalists and ending impunity in crimes against the media and media professionals. The project falls under the U.N. Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and is funded by the U.N. Peace Fund for Nepal.
The project would establish an independent mechanism to provide a framework to tackle the issue of journalist safety and impunity in the country. Journalist associations, media rights groups, human rights organizations, and security and judicial bodies collaborated on the project.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The text has been updated to reflect that UNESCO launched its two-year initiative in 2013.
Access to the Internet has grown at a slow pace over the past few years, according to data from the International Telecommunication Union, or ITU.
At least 22 journalists fled the western district of Dailekh in late January after receiving death threats from people who they said were members and supporters of the ruling Maoist party. The journalists were threatened after protesting what they perceived to be the prime minister's interference in the arrests of five individuals in connection with the 2004 murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa.
The exodus caused two dailies, Dhamaka and Hamro Tesro Aankha, to stop printing. A third paper, the weekly Sajha Pratibimba, was also been suspended.
Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai drew criticism from local journalists for what they saw as political interference in the Dekendra Thapa murder investigation. Bhattarai publicly criticized the arrest of five of his party members in connection with the case, and said that the arrests were part of a plot by human rights activists to derail the peace process by reviving cases from the conflict period.
The Maoist-led government directs authorities to drop their investigation into the 2007 murder of Prakash Singh Thakuri.
Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal pressures Bhattarai to drop charges against cadres accused of the 2004 murder of Dekendra Thapa, according to Freedom Forum.
CPJ did not document any journalists killed in Nepal in 2013. Eight journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work since the organization began keeping records in 1992. Seven of them were murdered.
* Adds up to more than 100 percent because more than one category applied in some cases