Nepal | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Nepal

Nepal

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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

65

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

31

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

14

Conditions for Nepalese journalists, which had deteriorated sharply as a Maoist insurgency escalated in late 2001, improved briefly with the signing of a cease-fire between the rebels and government forces in early 2003. However, when the agreement collapsed in August, the press was once again caught in the middle of the conflict and faced renewed intimidation and violence from both sides. Although emergency regulations were lifted in 2002, journalists (particularly those whom the government suspects of having Maoist sympathies) are still regularly arrested and detained, and a number have reportedly been subjected to harassment and torture. Media professionals are also under considerable pressure from the Maoists; suspected rebels killed a journalist with the state-owned news agency in September, and other reporters have been abducted and threatened or expelled from rebel-held areas. More than 200 journalists, defying a government ban on rallies, gathered in Kathmandu to protest the killing. 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. The government owns the major English-language and vernacular dailies; these news outlets generally provide pro-government coverage. While a plethora of private publications continues to cover sensitive issues such as the role of the monarchy, human rights violations, and corruption, self-censorship as a result of the intimidation detailed above is a growing concern. The government owns both the influential Radio Nepal, whose political coverage favors the ruling party, and one of several television stations. Private radio stations are required to broadcast Radio Nepal news at least once daily in addition to their own news programming. Access to cable television, foreign broadcasts, and the Internet is unrestricted.