After officers beat journalist Padam Prasad Pokhrel while he was reporting, he is seen at a protest led by the Working Journalists Association of Nepal outside the office of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City administration on March 14, 2024. (Photo credit: Media Action Nepal)

Journalist Padam Prasad Pokhrel attacked while covering alleged police assault in Nepal

New York, March 19, 2024—Nepali authorities must swiftly and impartially investigate the attack on journalist Padam Prasad Pokhrel and hold the perpetrators to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

On the evening of February 28, up to 15 police officers attacked Pokhrel, editor-in-chief of the news website Pranmancha, while the journalist was filming officers allegedly displacing street vendors by force in the Sundhara area of the capital Kathmandu, according to local advocacy groups Media Action Nepal and Freedom Forum, as well as a statement by the Working Journalists Association of Nepal, reviewed by CPJ.

Pokhrel was filming a baton charge by the Kathmandu metropolitan police when the officers surrounded him, beat him with batons, and kicked him for around ten minutes, he told CPJ, adding that he shouted that he was a journalist and displayed his press identification card. The journalist told CPJ that officers confiscated his phone, camera, and laptop, along with other items worth around 11,000 rupees (US $82) that he purchased earlier that day.

Pokhrel said officers then dragged him into a vehicle and continued to beat him for around 15 minutes until they reached a local police station, where he was left outside and later taken to the hospital by officers with the Nepal central police force. Pokhrel said he was treated at the National Trauma Center for a torn ligament in his right leg and significant bruising and muscle pain throughout his body.

“Nepali authorities must complete a credible and transparent investigation into the assault on journalist Padam Prasad Pokhrel and return any items seized during the attack,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The public has a right to be informed about police violence in their communities, and journalists must be able to cover such incidents without fear of reprisal.”

Following protests by local journalists, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City administration appointed an investigative committee to probe the incident and told the journalist that the findings would be revealed on Friday, March 22, Pokhrel said.

Authorities returned Pokhrel’s phone on Monday but said they were unaware of the location of his other items, the journalist told CPJ.

Dinesh Mainali, superintendent and spokesperson for the Kathmandu metropolitan police, told CPJ that he was out of the country and unaware of the case.

CPJ called and messaged Bhim Prasad Dhakal, spokesperson of the Nepal Police, and Pradip Pariyar, chief administrative officer of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City administration, but did not receive a response.

Editor’s note: This penultimate paragraph has been updated to include Mainali’s response.