Journalists arrested in Nepal
By: Siromani Dhungana, IPI Nepal National Committee
KATHMANDU, June 27, 2013 - The International Press Institute’s (IPI) Nepal National Committee today urged the Nepal government to immediately release journalist Sushil Pant and online portal owner Santosh Bhattarai, who were arrested in the capital Kathmandu on June 20.
Guest editor of the online portal www.nepaliheadlines.com, Pant, and Bhattarai, the owner, were arrested by Nepali police for publishing a news story about a girls’ college in Kathmandu which the college management reportedly complained had severely affected the reputation of girls studying there.
In a related development, journalist Pushkar Nath Kandel was arrested in the western Palpa district in a move linked to the same case. Kandel runs online news portal www.extrakhabar.net from Palpa. Pant and Bhattarai were arrested after Kandel told the police that his news site had copied the news from www.nepaliheadlines.com.
In a press release, the Press Council of Nepal has urged the government to release Pant immediately. The government has entrusted the Council with the monitoring of content of electronic media along with print media, the chairman of the council, Borna Bahadur Karki, said. He also asked media professionals to respect the responsible journalism Code of Conduct.
IPI’s Nepal National Committee chairman, Padma Singh Karki, said that the arrest of the journalist over the published news content ran counter to the established notion of freedom of expression.
The Press Council of Nepal is responsible for monitoring media content and must respond if the existing Journalists’ Code of Conduct is found to have been breached, he said. “Legally, the council works as a complaint redressal mechanism according to the Press Council Act of Nepal,” he added. “But the Nepal police arrested them without any reasonable logic.”
The Nepal Press Council must take the initiative to sort out the issue, considering the gravity and sensitivity of the news, he suggested.
He also asked journalists to adhere to the notion of ‘social responsibility’ and avoid sensational content.
For further information, please contact:
IPI Nepal National Committee