Attacks on the Press
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.