Nepal | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Status change explanation: Nepal's rating moved from Partly Free to Not Free to reflect the worsening pressures placed on the media by both the government and Maoist rebels.

Conditions for journalists deteriorated sharply in 2002 as the Maoist insurgency escalated. Both the constitution and the Press and Publications Act broadly suppress speech and writing that could undermine the monarchy, national security, public order, or interethnic or intercaste relations. Emergency regulations imposed in November 2001 restricted press and publication rights as well as access to information, and journalists were requested by the government not to write articles "sympathetic" to the Maoist rebels. Since the state of emergency was declared, authorities have arrested over 150 journalists, and more than two dozen remained in detention at year's end, according to the Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies. Several have reportedly been subjected to harassment and torture. In June, the editor of a pro-Maoist weekly died in police custody, while Maoists abducted and murdered two reporters during the year and threatened many others. However, in November, 14 journalists filed cases against the government seeking compensation for their illegal detentions. While many private publications continue to criticize government policies and corruption, self-censorship as a result of official intimidation is a growing concern. The government owns the influential Radio Nepal, whose political coverage favors the ruling party, as well as the sole television station.