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Rights group slams Maoists for attacks on journalists

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said it was concerned about series of assaults and threats taken by Maoists against the press.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2006 12:49 IST

An international media rights group has criticised Nepal's communist rebels for continued attacks on journalists despite declaring a ceasefire and entering a peace process with the government.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said it was "very concerned about a series of assaults, threats and coercive measures taken by Maoist cadres against the press in various parts of the country."

"Even though Maoist attacks on journalists have considerably decreased compared to previous years, they are nevertheless regular and symptomatic of a failure to tolerate criticism," the group said in a statement released Tuesday.

After more than a decade of war, Maoist rebels declared a cease-fire and began peace talks with the government in April following weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations that forced King Gyanendra to give up his authoritarian rule.

Under Gyanendra's direct rule, the government strictly enforced media laws and imposed a ban on writing against the king and royal family and criticism of the security forces.

It also prohibited independent reporting on the country's communist insurgency.

Since the king's downfall, press freedom has been restored, but there have been reports in recent months of rebel attacks on journalists and in some cases censorship in rural areas under rebel control.

Reporters Without Borders called on the rebels to honour their pledge to protect freedom of the press.

"On several occasions, the Maoist party's most senior leaders have sworn their commitment to the freedom and security of journalists.

These commitments should be urgently respected in practice. We call on the movement's leaders to bring their militants into line and to show greater transparency," the group said in the statement.

First Published: Nov 01, 2006 12:49 IST