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Journalist's killing sparks protests

Reporters issue deadline to police, warn of further demonstrations if culprits not found

A small memorial to Yadav Prasad Poudel outside the offices of Avenues TV A small memorial to Yadav Prasad Poudel outside the offices of Avenues TV
  • Chirendra Satyal, Kathmandu
  • Nepal
  • April 5, 2012
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The killing of a journalist this week has sparked angry demonstrations by reporters in the capital, who say that calls by the media for a new constitution that protects freedom of information has made them political targets.

Yadav Prasad Poudel, 38, a television and newspaper reporter, was found dead outside a small hotel in Birtamod in eastern Nepal yesterday.

He had suffered fractures and internal injuries, according to doctors quoted by the English language daily Republica, who suggested that he had been thrown from the second floor of the hotel before being beaten and killed.

Witnesses told police that they had seen as many as six men arrive at the hotel on three motorcycles prior to the killing, local press reports said.

Pastor Kali Bahadur Rokkya, executive member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said security for journalists remained a big problem.

“Not only in remote parts of the country but in in towns as well, journalists do not feel secure,” he said.

Rokkya added that in nearly five years of service in the NHRC, he has found “very few political leaders who understand the concept of comprehensive human rights.”

Police in Birtamod said they have arrested as many as a dozen suspects, according to local media reports.

Despite a statement by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai in which he called the killing “an attack on democracy,” journalists marched in several districts to condemn the killing and call for a thorough investigation.

The National Federation of Journalists in Nepal has also formed its own seven-member investigating committee.

Bhaskar Rajkarnikar, founder of Avenues TV, where Poudel was a correspondent, further issued a warning to the government that it had 24 hours to identify the killers or face “intensified protests.”

Poudel, who was also a Jhapa district correspondent for the daily Rajdhani newspaper, is survived by his wife and two children.

Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), condemned the “brutal killing” of Poudel.

“Police must work quickly and immediately to ensure they identify the motive of this murder and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Nepal ranks seventh on the CPJ’s impunity index, which calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population, according to a statement issued this week.
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