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KATHMANDU: Freedom of expression defenders, human rights advocates and journalists have expressed worry over the justice delayed and denied to the families of the journalists who were killed and made disappeared in Nepal.
At a virtual program organized on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in Kathmandu on Friday, the family members of the victim journalists sought cooperation from all sides-journalists, FoE defenders, transitional justice mechanism and government- for the justice.
Senior journalist and FoE defender Dharmendra Jha made a presentation on the status of the journalists killed and disappeared in Nepal since 1996 till date. He shared the study report carried out by Freedom Forum that 23 journalists were killed in Nepal since 1996.
The country witnessed armed insurgency from 1996 to 2006. “The perpetrators involved in crime against journalists are still walking scot-free; some cases are pending in courts, some in transitional justice mechanism; while investigation is stalled for some cases,” he said, adding that justice was delayed much to the families of victim journalists.
On the occasion, daughter of slain journalist D Kaundinya, Trishna Acharya, said, “Government needs to come up with a concrete plan to address impunity relating to crimes against journalists. The delayed justice has re-victimized the victims.”
“The letters by UNESCO Director General to the government on status of justice to the slain journalists in Nepal should be responded,” said Freedom Forum Executive Chief Taranath Dahal, arguing that if the culture of impunity is entrenched, it will not only challenge freedom of expression and journalists rights, but also ruin the rule of law, transparency and democracy.
He informed that the International Day to End Impunity for Crime against Journalists is observed throughout the month of November across the globe.
On the occasion, Member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Bishnu Pokhrel, shared that the TRC was currently working on the nature of complaints lodged at it. “The complaints filed by the families of the victim journalists, which fall under its jurisdiction, are obviously studied well and recommendation made to the government,” she made commitment, seeking cooperation from all sides to ensure justice to the victims.
Senior official at the National Human Rights Commission, Yagya Prasad Adhikari, said the government must not show apathy to bring to book the violators of human rights. “Transitional justice mechanism must be more active and strong to help end impunity,” he said, adding that NHRC has been recommending the government for protection of human rights.
Similarly, Vice-President of the Federation of Nepalis Journalists, Bipul Pokhrel, said it was worrying that impunity related to crimes against journalists was a permanent issue. “The FNJ has been continuously pressing the government and other stakeholders to ensure justice to the victim journalists,” he added.
Freedom Forum Chairman Haribinod Adhikari viewed that such program would create an atmosphere to exert pressure on the government and other sides to address impunity. Broader solidarity is essential for it, he added. The event was organized by Freedom Forum.