UNESCO Condemns Murder of Nepalese Journalist Dakendra Raj Thapa

26 August 2004

UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura today condemned the killing of journalist Dakendra Raj Thapa by Maoist rebels in the west of Nepal on August 11

"I condemn the murder of Dakendra Raj Thapa," Mr Matsuura declared. "There can be no justification for the use of violence to muzzle journalists and prevent them from carrying out their professional duty," he added. "A free press is essential for democracy which is why attacking journalists is tantamount to attacking all members of a society."

Maoist rebels abducted Mr Thapa, a reporter for state-owned Radio Nepal, on June 26 and accused him of spying. Mr Thapa was also an advisor to the Dailekh district committee of the Human Rights and Peace Society(HURPES), a Kathmandu-based human rights organization.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting press freedom, has counted 14 other reports of beating, harassment, imprisonment and abduction of journalists in Nepal this year alone.

The Director-General commented these reports saying: "I am gravely concerned by the conditions faced by journalists in Nepal and call on all the parties concerned to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines press freedom and freedom of expression as a fundamental human right."

UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to "further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations." To realize this purpose the Organization is required to "collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image

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