Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based media watchdog, has endorsed what media associations have been crying hoarse for all these days.
CPJ has dubbed Nepal as one of the most unsafe places for working journalists. The country shares the unenviable honour with some of the terror hot spots in the world, namely Iraq, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Columbia, the Philippines and Afghanistan.
Incidentally, Nepal scores more on the impunity quotient as compared to its strife-torn South Asian counterpart Pakistan. The Himalayan nation stands eight. While, Pakistan occupies the 10th spot.
The organisation’s latest Impunity Index-2008 lists nations where journalists meet a violent end while the governments fail to provide adequate security cover. Errant political parties, too, go scot-free in frequent strong-arm tactics on the media.
The index lays bare chilling statistics: 523 media persons have been killed across the world since 1998. At least 14 nations are grappling with numbers of unsolved murder cases of journalists that are arguably higher than the percentage of their size of population.
At a conservative estimate, the government is yet to crack the cases of five slain journalists in the country. The tragic death of radio journalists Uma Singh and Dekendra Raj Thapa are still fresh in public memory.
To make matters worse, the Maoist-led government is yet to live up to its assurance that killers would not enjoy political patronage. “A sizeable number of mediapersons is being targeted by competing groups, who have an issue with the coverage. The political situation in South Asia is a cause for serious concern,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ, consultant, Asia programme. He sees a pattern behind the growing violence in the region.
“These nations are entering into a phase of sustained armed conflict, which immediately puts the journalists at a greater risk,” he reasoned. Dharmendra Jha, president, Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), said the list didn’t come as a surprise in light of the growing impunity. He squarely blamed the government for the sorry state of affairs. “The state is busy protecting the criminals instead of bringing them to book,” he added.