April 6, 2012
Police in eastern Nepal must fully investigate Tuesday night's murder of a TV and newspaper reporter and determine whether the motive was related to his journalism, the Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ] said today.
Yadav Poudel, who covered local news for the Kathmandu-based Avenues TV, the national Rajdhani Daily, and the local Mechi Times, was found dead near a hotel in the Jhapa District of eastern Nepal late Tuesday, according to KC Poshan, an adviser to the Federation of Nepali Journalists [FNJ]. Initial news reports said Poudel's throat appeared to have been slit, but the English-language daily Republica reported that doctors who conducted the autopsy on Wednesday said he had likely been beaten and thrown from the hotel roof.
FNJ sent a delegation to Jhapa to investigate the circumstances, KC Poshan told CPJ. Police told local journalists they were questioning several people in relation to the attack, including the hotel owners, news reports said. Several of Poudel's recent reports had alleged that hotels in the area were involved in a burgeoning prostitution trade.
According to Reporters Without Borders, “The police found Poudel’s body yesterday morning [approximately 1:30 am] outside the Purbanchal Sekuwa Corner Hotel, near the town’s bus station. According to the autopsy report, he sustained injuries to the head, his right hand was fractured, several ribs were broken and his liver was crushed.
“Local media reports quoted neighbours as saying they heard men on a motorcycle shouting that the journalist had hidden in the hotel and that he had to be killed. The police said they thought he might have been thrown from the third floor of the hotel after receiving a beating.”
Nepal has a very poor record of investigating journalist killings, according to CPJ research. Nepal ranks seventh on CPJ's global Impunity Index, which calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country's population.
The incident comes after two years of a relatively peaceful intersession for journalists in the country, since the killing of Uma Singh (January, 2009) and media entrepreneurs Arun Sighaniya of Janakpur (March 2010), Jamim Shah of Kathmandu (Feb 2010). As many as 13 journalists have been killed in Nepal since 2002.
However, the past few weeks have seen an increase in threats and attacks on journalists in Nepal.
Again, according to Reporters Without Borders:
In one of the latest cases, Umesh Kumar Mehta, an FNJ member working for Popular FM in Inaruwa, in the eastern district of Sunsari, received a threatening call on 2 April because he reported irregularities in a school management committee election in the nearby village of Madhyaharsahi. The caller, Shyam Lal Mehta, the future head of the committee, threatened to kill him.
Sashi Bichitra, the publisher of New Highway, a weekly based in the east-central district of Parsa, received telephone death threats on 22 March. He said he thought they might be linked to his coverage of smuggling in the nearby district of Sarlahi.
Three journalists – Shravan Deuba of Nayapatrika Daily, Deepak Oli of Sourya Daily and Bhim Chaudhari of Tarai Television – were interviewing and taking photos in a deforested area in the western district of Kailali on 12 March when they were abducted and held for two hours by illegal loggers who threatened to kill them if they published any reports about illegal logging.
Death threats have also been made against writer and journalist Kanak Mani Dixit, UNICEF staff member Kul Chandra Gautam and human rights activist Subodh Raj Pyakurel as a result of their criticism of Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, the head of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN-Maoist). Dixit was declared an “enemy of the people” in an article in the 30 January issue of Lalrakshak (Red Guards), a monthly published by UCPN-Maoist.